So Andy Flower is off after all. I can’t say I’m surprised. You can’t oversee the most inept tour in England’s recent history without paying a price.
Flower was a first class England coach, but when you’re lecturing people about the need for change, and advocating a new era, it’s kind of hard for the old headmaster to stay in situ. Perhaps Andy, analytical as he is, realised that staying on contradicted his own message.
Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Flower was privately pushed. Just a month ago he seemed desperate to stay on. But someone who has been such a fantastic servant to English cricket doesn’t deserve the ignominy of a public sacking.
Talk of returning to a single coach for all three forms of the game gave the ECB and Flower the perfect reason to part ways gently and, one assumes, amicably – even if it leaves Hugh Morris looking like a bit of a plonker; just three months ago, when he left his position at the ECB, Morris told everyone that split coaches was the future. Read into that what you will.
Inevitably discussion now turns to Flower’s replacement. The ECB intend to advertise the position, but this means nothing. Five years ago they paid international head-hunters a fortune to find the right man – only to appoint the bloke who was under their noses the whole time. What a waste of money that was.
This time, the bloke under their noses is Ashley Giles, who various journalists and ex-players have described as ‘the obvious’ candidate, or the ‘natural replacement’ for Flower. Interesting choice of words that.
I’ve looked through all the newspapers, read all the websites, and watched as much TV as possible, but I’m yet to hear any pundit– not a single one – suggest that Giles is the ‘best candidate’. Even his best mate, Michael Vaughan, has called for a dream team of Gary Kirsten and Paul Collingwood.
Regular readers of TFT will know I’m a Giles sceptic, but if the truth be told I’ve actually been quite impressed with Giles in recent weeks – although results continue to be, how can we say this nicely, ‘mixed at best’, he’s handled himself well. He also did the right thing by letting Steve Finn return to England. If the guy’s got the yips, there’s no point keeping him around.
That said, Ashley Giles simply does not deserve to replace Andy Flower. He’s flunked his yearlong audition for the job quite badly.
When Giles took over as our ODI coach a year ago, England were ranked number one in the world. We are now ranked fourth (and we’re only one point ahead of Sri Lanka in fifth).
During Giles’ tenure, England have won ten ODIs and lost fourteen. What’s more, we’ve only won four of ten T20 internationals. Gilo’s combined record is therefore a losing one. Won 14, lost 20. That’s not very good, is it.
Having said that, results are only part of the picture when it comes to the ECB. Being successful is all well and good, but one suspects that being a good committeeman, and possessing a disinclination to rock anything that floats, is just as important in decision-makers minds.
Ashley Giles most definitely ticks these boxes – which is part of the reason why he’s risen through the ranks so quickly after retiring as a player. If the ECB simply want a safe pair of hands, it’s hard to see past Gilo.
If Giles is indeed appointed we’ll all get behind him, but I sense the majority of England fans are lukewarm about the King of Spain. His tactics during the champions trophy seemed anachronistic, while team selection has often seemed a little odd: Giles must be the only person in the entire world who thinks Dernbach is a better T20 cricketer than Stokes (especially when you consider the latter’s batting too).
I also think there’s a perception that Giles wouldn’t be enough of a break from the past. Cricinfo’s George Dobell described him yesterday as “Flower-light”. In other words, his methods are similar but Giles is a less intense person.
Having someone more relaxed than Flower is definitely a bonus, but whether Giles is dynamic enough to capture hearts and minds is another thing. It’s hard to see Gilo getting the better of Darren Lehmann in a personality contest (or any contest come to think of it).
Journalists and ex-players all seem to be craving a sexier name. Mike Atherton, another former teammate of Giles, has beseeched the ECB to appoint Kirsten, whilst Mike Selvey wrote today that elevating Giles would be “premature” considering results. Indeed, it’s hard to find anyone outside of Warwickshire enthused by the prospect of Gilo in permanent control.
Although Kirsten would be an excellent choice, I personally can’t see him accepting the job. He’s well paid by his IPL franchise, and he’s expressed a desire to spend more time with his family.
So who does that leave? Tom Moody would be a great choice … if he wasn’t Australian. Dav Whatmore has just left Pakistan after doing a good job, but he’s coached just about everyone – plus he’s played cricket for Australia too (not a lot of people know that).
Mickey Arthur would love the job, if only to put one over his former employers at the ACB, but I doubt England fans would welcome him with open arms. And then there’s Mick Newell, the erstwhile Nottingham coach.
I’m unsure about this one. Newell seems like a good guy, but with an unassuming personality and a lack of international credentials, he’s a bit like “Giles-light”.
It would be great to get Paul Collingwood involved with the England set-up – unlike Giles he’s a natural leader (with good captaincy experience) plus he has a shrewd cricket brain – but the name that fascinates me is Graham Ford.
The South African is a good coach with international experience, knows English cricket well after his time with Kent, and has a very good relationship with Kevin Pietersen. If KP actually survives the post-Ashes cull, then Ford could be the ideal man.
The only thing standing in Ford’s way would be Surrey: he recently agreed to coach them in 2014. But Surrey would act in the national interest, right?
Actually, don’t answer that. We’ll probably end up with Chris Adams.