Flower weaves his magic as England begin to bloom
In the recent upturn of England’s fortunes one mastermind sits stern-faced behind the scenes.
Since becoming full Team Director in April 2009 Andy Flower has regained the famous urn and led England to victory in the World Twenty20 cup.
The biggest change is a simple one. No longer does one England squad compete all formats of the game.
Flower and Andrew Strauss have finally dragged England in line with the other nations in selecting specialist squads, distinguishing the difference between Test cricket, 50 over and 20 over matches.
England’s win in the Caribbean epitomises this fundamental change of attitude to selection. The squad chosen was tailor made for the shortest format including the likes of Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter and Michael Yardy.
As well as the players chosen for each differing competition, it’s the ruthlessness to select men in form. A prime example coming with the rise of Jonathan Trott. After some sterling run scoring for Warwickshire he was fast tracked into the fifth Ashes test at the Oval and scored a magical hundred to set up victory.
Flower’s ruthlessness has been shown again with the dealing of his spinners. Monty Panesar has not featured since saving the match with the bat in the opening Ashes test match in Cardiff, magnifying the cut throat nature of his management.
Graeme Swann has been his number one spinner which has proved to be an invaluable move as the Nottinghamshire man has led the attack on a number of occasions.
It’s not just Flower’s on field changes but his conduct off it. There are stark comparisons between the England boss and former coach Duncan Fletcher.
Despite taking over an apparently divided team, the harmony apparent today is an incredible achievement.
More so he has made the job his own. Formerly a stubborn and rigid set up, Flower has given the team real flexibility and broken down well established walls around its selection policy.
Most importantly England no longer fear Australia. There was almost an expectation to win against the old enemy in the Twenty20 final and this again highlights a shifting attitude change instilled by Flower.
This was no flash in the pan, England stormed to a 3-0 lead against Australia in the current five match series and the signs look promising ahead of the series down under.
Player performances have been outstanding but it pays to take a look at the wider picture and ensure that those behind the scenes get the credit they deserve.
The environment and atmosphere in the England camp built by Flower looks set to see English cricket continue to bloom.