Andy Flower remained incredibly professional and committed to England’s cause right up until his departure as team director.
I and other relevant parties met Flower only last week to discuss the way forward for Steven Finn, following the fast bowler’s early return from England’s tour of Australia. Flower did not give the slightest hint that his days in charge of the side were coming to an end. It was obvious he had spent time preparing for the meeting and his interest in Finn’s welfare and rehabilitation were genuine.
News of Flower’s departure has saddened me, not only because he is a high-quality coach and leader but also because he is bloody good man. Flower did not need to wear black armbands whilst playing for Zimbabwe in the 2003 World Cup, a protest made to state the “ Death of Democracy in Zimbabwe”, to highlight the fact he was a man of high morals. And it has been his values, as much as his coaching, that helped turn England into the best cricket team in the world.
Andrew Strauss is a man of similar qualities and it was he and Flower who set the standards for English cricket. The pair took pride, respect, commitment, organisation, planning and attention to detail to another level while running the England team. Both are proud men who gave English cricket everything they had. In return they expected loyalty and total commitment from all those who worked with them, and in the main they got it. The highlight of their time together and Flower’s reign as team director came when England defeated Australia 2-1 in the 2010-11 Ashes.
As with most successful people, Flower knew what he wanted and had the utmost belief that what he was doing was right. This meant he was quite hard to deal with on some occasions. I will never forget an afternoon on the phone to him in 2010. Again, it concerned Steven Finn, but this time it was about the England and Wales Cricket Board’s decision to withdraw Finn from county cricket to take part in a six-week strength and conditioning course. We had differing views on what Finn should be doing and this came to a head when the fast bowler was not bowling very well when he returned to playing.
Flower and I had a lengthy phone call which ended with us agreeing to disagree in a rather frank and uncomplicated way. I sat down to continue with my work when my phone rang again. Once again it was Flower, and my first thought was “what have I done wrong now?”
Fortunately, the call had nothing to do with Finn. He was calling to ask whether it would be possible for Middlesex to find a place in our side in a coming game for Kevin Pietersen. This was because Hampshire were refusing to select Pietersen after he had informed them he was leaving the club at the end of the season. I said that I would go away to think about it.
Following the second call I sat back in my chair and chuckled. My estimation of Flower had gone up hugely. Here was not a petty man who held grudges. Here was a man who had a job to do and did it to the best of his ability.
He got his thoughts out in the open, gave you his opinion, took on board what you had to say, agreed or disagreed with you and then moved on. Since those phone calls I have had an excellent relationship with him.
Leaving his position will not have been an easy decision for Flower as he was committed and proud to do the job. Only he will know whether he had any more to give to the England team. His departure will leave a huge hole that will require a special person to fill. And so the cycle begins again.
Who could replace Flower as head coach?
So who now? Candidates for top job
So who now? Candidates for top job
1/6 Ashley Giles
(Odds: Evens) Age 40 Nationality English Experience Ex-England player; Warwickshire coach; now England limited-overs head coach
2/6 Stephen Fleming
(12-1) Age 40 Nationality N Zealander Experience Former NZ captain, now coach of Indian Premier League side Chennai Super Kings Graham Ford (8-1) Age 53 Nationality S African
3/6 Graham Ford
(8-1) Age 53 Nationality S African Experience Former coach of South Africa (1999-2002) and Sri Lanka (2012-13), as well as Kent director of cricket (2005) Gary Kirsten (7-1) Age 46 Nationality S African Experience Led India from 2008-11 and South Africa between 2011-13. At Delhi Daredevils since last September
4/6 Gary Kirsten
(7-1) Age 46 Nationality S African Experience Led India from 2008-11 and South Africa between 2011-13. At Delhi Daredevils since last September
5/6 Mickey Arthur
(10-1) Age 45 Nationality S African Experience Coached South Africa from 2005-10 and Australia from 2011 until sacking last year
6/6 Paul Collingwood
(20-1) Age 37 Nationality English Experience Ex-England player; on coaching team as Scotland qualify for 2015 World Cup