So where were we? Oh yes! England in transition! It’s official. The departure of Andy Flower as team director last week has seen English cricket hurl itself into the deep end. A captain that is new to the job, a team director that will soon be new to the job and a team whose confidence is low on the back of having their behinds handed to them by a sublime Australia team.
Andy Flower has gone amidst arguably the lowest point in English cricket in the last five years. However let’s put this into perspective, this low point is arguably the only low point in English cricket since Flower took over the post from Peter Moores in 2009. Moores’ reign as team director was short lived and relatively unspectacular, marred by his rather public fallout with Kevin Pietersen.
In contrast, since Flower took over from Moores as team director he has lead England to three back-to-back Ashes victories in the summer of 2009, an away Ashes victory in 2010/2011 and last summer’s 3-0 victory. He has also led England to final of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in 2010 which they won and guided them to claiming the mace for number one test team in the world in the summer of 2011 after whitewashing India 4-0.
Flower’s reign, except from the recent tour of Australia has been characterised by stability, his core group of players including Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Matt Prior Graeme Swann and James Anderson have all contributed to one of the most decorated periods of England’s cricketing history. I hope that Flower will not be remembered for the most recent tour of Australia, which put lightly, was a disaster. Instead I hope he’ll be recognised for his achievements and successes that he enjoyed over the last five years.
His departure has of course sparked speculation over the new team director, someone who Flower believes should take charge all three formats of the game (Test, ODI and T20). The signs point to Ashley Giles, but I have my reservations about Giles. He had a shaky start to his time as head of the one day format for England but the recent Champion Trophy performance which saw England make the final will have certainly eased some of those doubts. However, if it’s not Giles then who else could take over?
Recently retired international players such as Michael Vaughan and Australian duo Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne have been touted as potential successors whilst experienced coaches such as Mick Newell and Tom Moody are also in the running. Some fans may have reservations about having a former Australian cricket player as team director for England, but I have no doubt that both Warne and Gillespie would approach the job in a professional manner and put aside the rivalry between the nations in order to focus on the job.
However, perhaps having Giles as coach of all three formats wouldn’t be such a bad idea. He’s already familiar with the set-up, the players and is clearly the obvious choice. Giles would also be able to implement his ideas on how cricket should be played across all three formats of the game and maintain some consistency in the style of cricket played by England, despite some critics labelling Giles’ style of cricket as unimaginative. Regardless, with new players coming in, a relatively new captain and a new coach, England have the chance to wipe the slate clean and start over.
What is becoming apparent to all English cricket fans is that 2014 is the start of a new era for English cricket. Hopefully, it will be as fruitful as Andy Flower’s era was.