No. It’s not Batman. It’s everyone’s favourite technical director of elite coaching, Mr Andy Flower.
Oh, hang on a sec, to ‘come back’ necessitates actually going away in the first place … which Flower didn’t.
Yesterday’s breaking news that Flower will lead the England Lions in their upcoming triangular series against New Zealand A and Sri Lanka A is rather interesting to say the least.
When Flower stepped down as England head coach after the Ashes disaster – when it was apparent to everyone in world cricket other than Paul Dowton that England needed a change – he was effectively promoted rather than sacked.
Instead of being England head coach, Flower became a kind of off-field supremo: the man that coaches the coaches. Now he’s in charge of moulding the next generation of players, too.
Lots of people (including us) were baffled by Flower’s promotion. How is one supposed to initiate change when the previous incumbent (in his infinite wisdom) is influencing the new coaches?
The appointment of Peter Moores, who is very much a Flower acolyte, confirmed what many of us thought at the time: all talk of a ‘new era’ was hogwash. Flower had his feet comfortably under the table, was somewhat untouchable, and would continue to pull the strings from afar.
Yesterday’s move is yet more evidence that nothing has really changed since the Ashes – other than the dropping of you know who and the appointment of Farbrace. Well, if the backroom staff and management team are already too big, why not make them bigger eh!
Despite protestations of a brave new world, the unavoidable truth is that England have now been coached by Moores and Flower, or variations on that theme, since 2007.
First we had Moores and Flower, then Flower on his own, and now we’re back to Moores and Flower again. Does Giles Clarke’s address book contain the names of more than two coaches?
Perhaps Ashley Giles was overlooked for the test job because Clarke and Dowton lost his number or, more likely, he just wasn’t quite familiar enough – having only been an ECB employer since 2008.
Now please don’t get me wrong. Andy Flower did a very good job as England head coach. If someone asked me if I thought he was a good coach I’d say “absolutely”.
However, all good things invariably come to an end. It was clear twelve months before the Ashes debacle that the team had peaked, Flowers methods were stale, and the bowling dry tactic didn’t work against world class batsmen who had more patience than the bowlers.
The bottom line is that Flower should have left at the same time as Strauss. They were one and the same. Cook, a fresh and naive skipper without his own leadership style, simply filled Strauss shoes.
If you look at England’s performances since reaching number one in the world, the victory in India was an aberration. It was sandwiched between losing 0-3 in the UAE, performing unconvincingly against the Windies at home (remember Best and Sammy flogging our bowlers everywhere), losing heavily to South Africa at home, performing poorly in New Zealand, and then losing the back-to-back Ashes by an aggregate of three wins to five.
When I heard Flower was stepping down after the Ashes – after initially suggesting his determination to continue (remind you of anyone?) – I was therefore delighted. It was well overdue.
England had become a joyless, inflexible cricket team that was unable to think on its feet. The team had also become disengaged from the public – as Dowton himself admitted.
The new era was supposed to hasten a new playing style. We were promised a more aggressive brand of cricket, with individuals playing with flair and freedom.
Six months later and the team is as boring, disengaged and stale as ever. And now, just for good measure, the old coach is back too.
Change? A new era? Yeah right.