Flower wants top spot after agreeing new England contract

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The Independent Online

Andy Flower reiterated his commitment to making England the best side in world cricket today after agreeing a new contract to remain in his role as team director.



The 43-year-old former Zimbabwe batsman joined the England set-up as assistant coach in May 2007 and became interim team director early in 2009 before taking up the job on a permanent basis in April that year on a rolling contract.



He has overseen a revival in England's fortunes over the past two years, guiding the team to two Ashes series victories and 2010 World Twenty20 glory.



England have risen from sixth to third in the ICC Test rankings, behind India and South Africa, under the leadership of Flower and captain Andrew Strauss, while the one-day side have also climbed a place to fifth in the ODI rankings.



And Flower, who was linked with the job of India coach until the appointment of Duncan Fletcher last month, does not want the progress to stop there.



He said: "I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to build on the considerable progress we have made to date as a squad and remain fully committed to developing the side and ensuring we are in a position to realise our objective of becoming the number one side in the world.



"When I was appointed England team director in 2009 I stated that I wanted to create a winning England team and I am very pleased with the advances we have made as a squad over the last two years in all formats of the game.



"Regaining the Ashes in 2009 and retaining them last winter and the 2010 World Twenty20 title are obvious highlights, but there is still plenty more we want to achieve in the longer term.



"We have made no secret of our determination to become the number one side in the world and challenge for global titles and I feel we have been making steady progress.



"I firmly believe we have the talent amongst the playing squad and management team to help us realise our ambitions and am looking forward to testing ourselves against quality opposition this summer and beyond."



Cape Town-born Flower brought much-needed stability and continuity to the England team after a turbulent 12 months and with a hectic and high-pressure international season looming large.



Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood had resigned as Test and one-day captains the previous summer. Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen were then removed from their positions as coach and captain respectively after the India tour in December 2008.



Due to all the upheaval, it took Flower until midway through the West Indies tour - when he impressed as stand-in coach despite the unexpected Test series defeat in early 2009 - to decide that he wanted to apply for the position.



He initially displayed reluctance to fill the role due to his loyalty to former coach Moores - the man who engaged him as his assistant two years earlier - but has since established himself as one of the most highly-regarded coaches in world cricket.



The terms of the contract renewal have not been disclosed, although it is thought Flower - who expressed his frustrations over the team's hectic winter schedule - was keen on a clause permitting him to miss specific tours in a bid to avoid burnout.



England will face Sri Lanka this summer in a three-match Test Series followed by a Twenty20 and ODI series. Next up will be a four-match Test series against India followed by an ODI against Ireland in Dublin and then a Twenty20 and ODI series against India.



Hugh Morris, managing director of England Cricket, is confident the team will continue their upward trend under Flower.



"Andy Flower has made a huge impact during his time as England team director and I am delighted that he has committed to the role and will be continuing to build on the considerable progress the England team has made during his time in the position," Morris said.



"Andy's outstanding leadership, commitment, and his open and honest approach have been key factors in the success the England squad has enjoyed over the last two years and I have no doubt that under his direction we will continue to see England improve as we strive to become the number one side in the world in all formats of the game."

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