WHEN England inevitably win the Ashes, the likes of Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen will take the plaudits, but the man who will really deserve huge congratulations is Andy Flower.
The kind of consistent success that he has engineered does not happen by chance. The players may be executing it, and very well too, but the masterplan was drawn up by their coach.
It is easy to forget what a shambles the England set-up was when he took charge in early 2009. His predecessor Peter Moores had been sacked after falling out with Pietersen, who was forced to step down as captain.
He brought in Graham Gooch as his batting coach. That a player of Gooch’s calibre was prepared to work under Flower says everything about the respect he has amassed.
Flower has already got one Ashes series victory under his belt; after yesterday’s triumph he is well on the way to another, and this time in Australia. He has done a terrific job.
While I can’t see the Aussies beating England, I think those predicting it will be all over by Christmas may be a touch premature. After all, the hosts can bat: Ricky Ponting is a great, Michael Clarke has got a few runs and so has Mike Hussey.
Bowling-wise, they are sorely lacking, yet they could still muster taking 20 wickets once, for instance in next week’s third Test. I just cannot envisage them doing that in another match, so the urn has England’s name on it.
The euphoria surrounding England’s triumph in Adelaide casts minds back to the heady summer of 2005. In fairness that was completely different: two really good teams slugging it out, as opposed to this one-sided contest.
Perhaps nothing will ever get near that Ashes series in terms of pure drama. But for sheer satisfaction, it doesn’t get much better than inflicting Australia’s first innings defeat on home soil for donkey’s years, and on a ground where it has always been hard to win.