Andy Flower leaves post as England cricket team director
Disastrous Ashes tour to Australia sees coach step aside
Andy Flower has left his post as England team director. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Andy Flower has accepted the ultimate responsibility for England’s Ashes shambles in resigning as the Test team director, but insisted his main reason for doing so was to allow a new coach to lead the rebuilding process across all formats and “ensure complete clarity and continuity across the squads”.
That would seem to leave Ashley Giles, who has been in charge of the 50-over and Twenty20 teams since November 2012, in pole position despite the poor performances that continued with a heavy T20 defeat in Melbourne on Friday, hours before Flower’s departure was confirmed.
But in a statement issued through the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) which revealed that he was in the “advanced stages” of discussions over a new administrative role, probably based in Loughborough, Flower was unequivocal that Alastair Cook should remain as captain.
“Following the recent very disappointing Ashes defeat it is clear to me that this is now time for England cricket, led by Alastair Cook, to rebuild with a new set of values and goals,” said Flower, who informed Paul Downton, the ECB’s new managing director of England cricket, of his desire to stand down in a meeting at Lord’s on Thursday.
“The opportunity to start with a clean slate and begin to instil methods to ensure England cricket is moving in the right direction will be an incredibly exciting challenge for someone but I do not feel like I am in a position to undertake that challenge.
“In order for England cricket to make significant progress I believe that the team director, together with the respective captains, needs to be responsible across all formats in order to positively influence the rebuilding process. This will ensure complete clarity and continuity across the squads and having stepped aside from the limited overs squads 14 months ago that is not something I am able to do and I do not therefore feel that starting the process would be in the best interests of all involved at what is a pivotal time for England cricket.
“This has been a very difficult decision to make and I remain committed to England cricket and would like to wish Alastair Cook and Paul Downton every success. I will remain in my position as a selector for the time being and am currently exploring possible roles within the ECB. The priority must now be to establish the direction and personnel needed to ensure England cricket moves forward.”
That statement invited further conjecture about Kevin Pietersen’s future with England, at least in Test cricket. He has also met Downton as part of the inquest into what went wrong in Australia, even though Downton does not officially start his job until Monday.
The Pietersen picture should become clearer this week when England name their squad for 50-over and T20 matches in the West Indies, which will then lead into the World Twenty20. He is still expected to be in that squad but the uncertainty over his Test future will need to be resolved, for the sake of all parties, before the Indian Premier League auction on February 12th.
Flower’s statement would seem to represent two major changes of heart. The decision to introduce a separate limited-overs coaching job was made largely to ease the workload on him, and less than a month ago, in the immediate aftermath of England’s fifth-Test defeat in Sydney, he told the BBC: “I’d love a part in rebuilding English cricket ... as the coach.”
There have been suggestions for some time that he would stand down after the Ashes tour whatever the result, but they were regularly denied by ECB officials, with the chief executive David Collier recently backing him to continue until the next Ashes series in 2015.
That was largely because of his outstanding record in almost five years as coach before this winter. He took the job in exacting circumstances in early 2009 after Pietersen effectively ousted Peter Moores from the job but also cost himself the captaincy, and England were all out for 51 in his first match in caretaker charge in the West Indies. But from those grim beginnings Flower steered England to three Ashes victories and the top of the world Test rankings, as well as a World T20 triumph.
“Andy has been the most successful coach in England’s history,” said Downton, adding that the ECB were “very disappointed to see him leave the role as team director”.
Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB throughout Flower’s tenure, added: “Andy Flower has not only shown himself to be a coach of great quality but also a man of great integrity. He has led England to great successes during his reign as team director and I look forward to his continued input in the ECB’s coaching structure.
“I am sure that he will be every bit as successful in that role as he has been in his five years as England team director. I thank him for his contribution to England’s cricketing history and wish him well in the future and his continued role in England’s cricketing success.”