ANDY FLOWER’S decision to extend his contract with the England and Wales Cricket board has been rightly celebrated by those with an interest in the national side.
The former Zimbabwe batsman has transformed England’s fortunes on the back of his dedication, thoroughness of preparation and man management skills.
Ever the perfectionist, however, Flower will appreciate England’s lackluster World Cup showing means he must address the deficiencies in the one-day set up if his side are to be considered a credible challenge to the subcontinents’ supremacy. In my opinion there are three areas he must address as a matter of urgency.
For so long the Durham all-rounder has been a vital cog in England’s wheel, but Old Father Time caught up with him this winter and Flower faces a tough decision as to who he picks as his successor. Eoin Morgan is the obvious choice but his decision to play in the IPL may affect his chances of being selected for the first Test against Sri Lanka when you consider Ravi Bopara has attempted to catch the eyes of the selectors by scoring runs for Essex.
England’s backroom staff didn’t get the acclaim they deserved for the role they played in retaining the Ashes. The work undertaken by fielding coach Richard Halsall has transformed England’s performance in that aspect of the game. After the 2005 Ashes series, bowling coach Troy Cooley, who worked successfully with Steve Harmison, was poached by Australia and England’s attack was never the same. Personal ambition might make it tough, but Flower must retain Halsall and current bowling coach David Saker if England are to maintain their progression.
It would be churlish to say Flower needs to rip it up and start again but he faces a delicate balancing act in respect that he needs to plan for the future but with both World Cup finalists touring this summer, selecting a brand new side is a recipe for disaster. Andrew Strauss is likely to stay on as skipper for now, but it would be an idea for Flower to groom his successor. Ian Bell would make a fantastic limited overs leader and an elevation to one-day vice skipper would send out the signal that he is looking to the future, while maintaining the nucleus of England’s relatively successful recent past.