Guess Who’s Back?


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.

James Morgan 


  • I would love to have seen the look on James Taylor, Jonny Bairstow, Ravi Bopara and Steve Finn’s faces when that little tit-bit was revealed to them! “Ah! Hi Finny! We really must iron-out that action …”

  • I couldn’t believe what I was reading yesterday about AF. So much for a new era. No wonder England is going down the pan. Flower was good but he became obsessive and allegedly started to treating players like school kids. I don’t understand how that happens. So having crushed the team and certainly been part of the system that treated players such as Finn, Panesar and Carberry with such disregard and damaging affects. Now he is in charge of the Lions? Blimey. You now I am genuinely gobsmacked. As you rightly say James, there is no such thing as a “new era” just the same old, same old. Makes me feel very depressing.

  • This is yet another ‘interesting’ development from the ECB. Flower ‘stood down’ did he? Or was it he was ‘elevated up’? What does ‘stood down’ mean? This deliberate obsfucation by the ECB highlights just how tied up in knots everything is in legalese and bo**ocks. Flower appears to have been elevated to the gods since his Ashes misery rather than being sacked – why????

    Some time later this happens. Flower to lead the Lions Tour. Is this a demotion? Doesn’t Flower have anything ‘better’ to do? What does he do anyway??? Just another reason to hate the ECB

    Here’s another – Jadeja found not guilty of a Level 2 crime, reduced to a level 1 crime and he loses 50% of his match fee. So England’s suggestion of a Level 2 crime was, shall we say mistaken, or rather made up for their own purposes? . But Boon says there’s no doubt a confrontation took place. So Little Jimmy will be worried now about his hearing, no doubt very happy to sledge the adjudicator if necessary!

    The one thing we can rely with the ECB is – they lie and they don’t even do that very well

  • When Vladimir Putin had served the maximum consecutive terms as president of Russia he came up with the artful ruse of inserting his loyal deputy as president for a time whilst he became Prime Minister (technically a step down but strangely didn’t seem like it), then after a term he returned to the presidency and his former deputy became prime minister. In a few years they’ll do the same again.

    On a completely unrelated note, Moores was once England coach and Flower his deputy. Moores had to leave and Flower became coach. Flower had to leave and Moores became coach. Flower is supposed to have left but still seems to be an England coach. Moores looks as if he may have to leave again. Looks as if it’s time for a new coach. If only there were an experienced chap like Vlad – I mean Andy – hanging around in the wings, keeping his hand in..

  • As I say in the previous thread I am deeply suspicious of the role of the coach, particularly in International sport. They seem to have acquired mythical, Svengali like status. I believe great teams have great or v good players. England had Strauss, and a young Cook both scoring lots of runs, Trott at number 3 and KP at number 4. In Swann they had a match winner as a bowler. In Anderson they had one of the best swing bowlers in the world. And In Prior a counter attacking run getter/keeper. These players took England to the top of the world game not the coach.

    And once these players started to decline so did England’s ranking. The coach was powerless as the players stopped performing. Weeks before the last Ashes tour radio 5 live gave over a whole evening of Flower to explain how much planning had gone into the up coming tour. In light of the debacle that followed, the BBC should re run it for comedic effect.

    A bad coach can makes things much worse. More so than a good coach can improve. Look at Australia. Lehman is getting all the credit. Yet it was the removal of the previous coach who had clearly lost the dressing room and the sudden come back in Mitchell Johnson that turned things around. But Hey why let the facts interfere with the myth of the all important great coach theory.

    As for Flower, isn’t this the same man who said he wanted to spend more time with his family? That touring was becoming a drain? The politics of this shows that England have learned nothing from the recent past. Both Cook and Flower have been retained at ECB. (Jobs for the boys)

    My fear for the next generation of England’s young cricketers is we will have a coach who specialises in knocking individuality and freedom out of the players. Natural talent and flair will be frowned on. Discipline and obedience to ECB corporate group think will be all.

    • Great points. Oh, wouldn’t it be interesting to hear that interview again now, Flower did a huge amount for England, but towards the end he became so obsessed with systems that he completely overlooked the factor most likely to lose you game – the other team playing better.

      No number of spreadsheets and dietary plans were ever going to counter Mitchell Johnson at 94 mph.

      You are right about the growth by stealth of the coach’s role. And Lehman was a bit lucky. Had James Pattinson been fit, Johnson would not have played at Brisbane in November. In which case, the world might not be a rather different place.

      • Pattinson, fit or not would not have played. Lehmann worked on his “best” players. Johnson, together with Warner and Watson, troublesome as they were under Arthur,, came back into the fold. It was those decisions by the coach that made the world a different place. You don’t often see ‘Boof’ with an ipad in his mitt. Or Gillespie for that matter (who SHOULD have been approached for the England role, but presumably, being a part Aboriginal from Adelaide’s “poor” northern suburbs, he just wasn’t “the type of chap we need”

        • A bad coach can do more harm than a good coach can do good. Arthur was making strange decisions that were costing the team.

          As you say, Lehman put those issue right and that improved things quite quickly. But the big difference was Johnson. Without his return to his best Australia would never have won 5-0 and they might not have won at all.

          A coach can can only do so much. Australia improved under Lehman in England last year. The games were much closer than people thought. But they still lost 3-0. What made the difference was Johnson.

      • Yes Maxie it would be interesting to hear that agin. I remember at the time thinking it was a bit of a hostage to fortune. The general memory is one of quite an arrogant Flower. I don’t think they had any idea what they were walking into. I think they expected 2011 all over again.

  • At least it’s out in the open now.The story that ECB had fired Andy Flower was so false but hidden away with all their lies as to why KP had to go.It makes me want to cry when I think what he is going to do with all the new young talent coming through let alone Finny & ,Bairstow .Surely someone within the ECB must see the danger and get rid of Andy Flower altogether before he destroys another generation of young cricketers Is there no one in ECB with any courage.?

    • Exactly how I feel Julie. I am really worried for our youngsters now in this environment. As you rightly say the ECB “sacking” of Flower was no sacking at all. Such terrible liars every single one of them. They should be ashamed of themselves, but they won’t.

  • What amazes me is that not only is Andy Flower a “colonial import” but he did not even go to the one of the top schools in Zimbabwe (of which there are a few) so he cannot be said to be of the “type” that Clarke and Downton refer to when they talk of Cook as being the right sort. How does that work?

    • Well Ron, it’s what we ‘outsiders’ don’t have that is the clue. The elites recognize each other by ‘instinct’ – having just read an article about Murdoch and his rise to world supremacy. The elites are born with a special type of nose whereby they recognize one of their own. Talent doesn’t matter but it helps. Money helps but the more money the better. And power. Clarke and Downton who would obviously class themselves amongst the world’s great, leading and foremost intelligentsia can smell one of their own from 22 yards and in this case it happens to be Flower. You may wonder who has drawn the short straw amongst all of these cads but they don’t worry about such things, there is duty and there is duty.

      Clarke and Downton can lie about Flower. Flower can lie about them – it’s all in the game.We ‘outsiders’ haven’t a hope in hell except, of course, that they don’t know that our instincts, of which we have many, can smell a rat from 22 yards ……

      • Here is a story from the US from a couple of years ago which is quite interesting about power elites…..

        “A spot in the Oval Office may be in the genes. A young California girl made the ultimate presidential family tree and found that all of the U.S. commander-in-chiefs except for one share an ancestor – King John of England.

        BridgeAnne d’Avignon traced the 43 presidents’ male and female family lines and discovered that 42 are linked to King John Lackland, known for signing the Magna Carta in 1215, KCOY reported.

        “They all have the trait of wanting power,” the 12-year-old told the local television station.

        I wonder if Clarke and Cook go back to King John?

  • Flower is coaching the Lions next, but the smart money is on that role getting bigger very soon. According to this report, there’s soon going to be a job for a kind of Youth Supremo:

    “In the coming weeks, the board might appoint a coach who would oversee the progress of all young players, from the teenage sides through to the England Performance Programme, which produces the Lions.

    Paul Downton, the managing director of England cricket, is examining a restructuring of the National Cricket Academy at Loughborough that may see England’s junior sides working more closely together than they have in previous years.

    Standard Sport understands Downton has been spending considerable time at the National Cricket Academy in recent weeks.”

    So in future the players can be over-coached, over-trained, over-exercised and burned out before they even get to the England side.

    • Oh great,and all individualism and natural flair knocked out of them. A generation of clones all programmed to obey.

      I have nothing against youth coaching. In fact I believe it is more important than coaching at the top level because by then you have learned and ingrained many bad habits. I just don’t have any confidence in the ECB to do it right. They tend to employ people who’s face fits rather than whether they are any good.

      The English sporting governing bodies have an appalling record of producing talent. The FA, the ECB, The LTA. Probably because they are stacked with men in blazers. Look at how many English cricketers were brought up over seas in the last 20 years.

      • Obviously as I am not working for the ECB, I don’t know half as much as Downton and Flower, but in my ignorance I would be looking at which County has the best Youth set-up. I would be asking who is bringing youngsters through on a regular basis, and then look at who are the key figures who have implemented the structure. Who are the outstanding coaches of young players.

        I would then look at bringing the best talent into the England set up, both at the organisation level and at the hands on teaching level.

        Obviously the ECB knows better and has decided that the former coach who gave five players a debut in 2010, of whom, non are currently playing Test cricket, and didn’t introduce a single new player in 2011, is best placed to bring young players into the Test Team.

        Incidently of all the players who débuted between 2009 and 2012, only one, Root is still playing for the 1st team.

  • Rob Key, vaunted by some to take over Cook’s job, has just said on SkySports that anyone in Cook’s position would have problems because the England side is in transition. No great run scorers and no great wicket takers so no great scope for the captain. We should all give Cook time as the new team develops ….. there’s no getting away from this rubbish is there, there’s no where to go ….ERRRM- KEY -WRONG!!!

    • It is true that England are in transition. But one of the many things I have against Cook is his inability to manage new, young players? Look at his handling of Kerrigan at the Oval last year. Or the way Finn has been handled. Or his bizarre comments about Butler (the very day he made a 100 at Lords) the kid must have been pumped and then you hear your captain say “he’s not ready for test cricket”

      Now it may be that he is not ready for test cricket. But you don’t come out and say it. Shouldn’t the captain be a bit of a diplomat? Along lines of ” one day cricket and test cricket are different. Up to the selectors”

      It’s one of the reasons I don’t buy in to all this guff about Cook as a nice guy. He comes across to me as aloof, and selfish. Which are fine traits for a batsman. (Look at boycott) but you need more about you to captain and lead.

  • There is no doubt in my mind that the Flower/Moores carousel keeps on going round because they’ve both sold the Corporate culture/Corporate cricket concept to the odious Clarke and his cronies, probably because mangement babble is the only language they understand?
    If they manage to look at their spreadsheets and trends they may note that there is a distinct pattern that stands out with the pair of them :- A well planned and micromanaged route to the top then an uncontollable nosedive and splat to the bottom. England with Flower, and Lancs with Moores!
    It’s like driving your car with a slow puncture, you keep blowing it up until you get to your destination, only to discover, when you arrive at your destination, the bloody spare’s flat too???
    As me old Mam (Gawd bless ‘er) was wont to opine…”All fur coat and no knickers”….She was never wrong!


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