Ashes 2013: Andy Flower’s powers need refreshing with England team that can achieve more

Flower’s team is in transition... he is looking to replace leading men

The Kia Oval

Despite the funky distortion of that engineered final session, this was not the best of Tests for Andy Flower. Controversial selections that cost his team a shot at victory, coupled with the borefest on Friday, visited upon the England head coach a heap of scorn. Even so, he would not have expected to be reading about his own demise over breakfast. He refused to deny reports on Sunday evening suggesting that his reign will not extend beyond the Ashes return Down Under. “We’re just going to enjoy tonight,” was as far as he would go.

Flower hands over control of the England ship to his second-in-command Ashley Giles for the one-day and T20 engagements, a division of labour introduced precisely to prolong his governance after five years in the job. Flower has two months to recoup, three before the first Test in Brisbane. He has presided over a period of unprecedented success, three successive series wins against Australia plus the epic victory in India. Defeat to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates was more of an ambush. Only in the home defeat to South Africa last summer has Flower been strategically outmanoeuvred.

Like all great generals, the key is to manage renewal, to recognise when change is needed and to execute. Sir Alex Ferguson proved arguably the greatest exponent of this aspect of leadership in the history of sport, building and rebuilding great football teams at Manchester United over a quarter of a century. Flower learned on Wednesday the risks involved, allowing Chris Tremlett to travel to Durham to compile career-best figures of eight for 96 while Chris Woakes laboured as the third seamer and Simon Kerrigan utterly perished as the second spinner.

Flower confronts a reinvigorated Australia. The 3-0 scoreline in this seris conceals the positive progression Australia made toward finding a settled side. Chris Rogers worked as an opener alongside the restored slugger David Warner. Shane Watson has annexed the troublesome No3 spot and Steve Smith has emerged as a No5 of some merit. With Brad Haddin back in the gloves and Nathan Lyon emerging as a top-class off-spinner, the management trusts to complement quicks Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, Michael Clarke will fancy his chances of halting Australia’s worst slide in three decades.

It won’t hurt Flower unduly that Australia take away an upgraded outlook. He is far more comfortable under the radar, operating without the forensic scrutiny that follows high expectation. He is naturally combative and will baulk at the propaganda gains made by Australia this summer, pointing to the key sessions that won the day for England, and almost prevailed again in last night’s thrash.

Flower’s team is in transition. The opening partnership is new and unstable. Joe Root will be targeted on the quicker Australian tracks. The experiment with Jonny Bairstow at No6 has failed for now. Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior have had poor summers. Trott will be peppered with short stuff. Flower will have this in mind as he picks the squads.

In selecting Kerrigan for The Oval, Flower will argue that the learned enough to know that a senior squad place this winter has come to soon. Chris Woakes deserves a second crack. Tremlett will travel, but long-term Flower will be looking at the need to replace leading men. Graeme Swann turns 35 in June, Kevin Pietersen, Jimmy Anderson and Matt Prior are all past 30.

At least the weather relented in south London yesterday, providing some ribald entertainment on the last day of the series. The setting of a victory target appeared more wishful thinking on behalf of Australia, who leave with zilch to show for an output that exceeded at least English expectation. England went at it with some interest, batting more positively than at any time in the match, after demonstrating what they really thought of the idea of making a game of it on Friday, eschewing the chance to chase Australia’s first innings total in perfect conditions.

Boring, boring England, sledged Australia, presumably trying to establish at least a moral gain from a series that passed without a win. Cheerleader-in-chief Shane Warne kept up the attack handing Michael Clarke a 5-0 victory over Alastair Cook in the captaincy comparison, hanging the negative label around England necks on Twitter.

Flower was right not to respond to the promptings of the opposition.  England fell for that old ruse two decades ago in the final of the Rugby World Cup, allowing the David Campese-led onslaught on their conservative, forward-dominated style fatal traction. England started throwing the ball about at Twickenham. Australia tucked the ball under their jumpers and ran out 12-6 winners. Last night England were a light meter reading from some kind of revenge. Australia deserved their break.

 



Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice