It has now been almost four years since that magical Ashes summer, a series which was meant to to symbolize the toppling of Australia as the No. 1 test site.
Since that Ashes victory, however, England cricket has struggled along, losing first Duncan Fletcher who turned the side around and then the man who led them on a golden run, Michael Vaughan.
Now we are back to our "ashes summer" which was eagerly anticipated as Australia are on a downward curve, how ironic that as chinks now appear in their armor English cricket is completely stripped of its own.
Where now then? Andrew Strauss has been selected captain for the away test to the West Indies, with an announcement soon about the ODI's. What of the coach, however? There have been several names banded about, Graham Ford of Kent, Andy Flower (England batting coach), Tom Moody now settled in Australia, and Ashley Giles appear to be the favorites.
Graham Ford was touted as the favourite as he worked well alongside KP. Now, however, KP has gone as captain, is he still in the running? He has overseen Kent well and has put his name forward, the director of cricket is currently at his academy in Durban. He has international experience having coached the Proteas before, experience is something the previous coach lacked at international level.
The other name with international experience is Tom Moody, and what a CV this man has. Having coached Worstershire and more recently Sri Lanka, Moody is used to international cricket and the English game. He should also command respect as being one of the first Australians alongside Steve Waugh to win two world cups. However, he has two young children and is settled down in Australia, would he be tempted away?
The other two candidates are a lot closer to home, and as such could be regarded as the easier choices. In this authors opinion, appointing Ashley Giles or Andy Flower would be the wrong choice, at most Flower could be a caretaker. The test side has often been called cliquey, appointing a recently ex player as coach could only enhance this.
Giles was a Vaughan favourite, the chances are Vaughan would be a Giles favourite, no matter how poor his recent form has been. Giles has also only been in the job at Warwickshire for a year, hardly a competitive CV compared to Ford and Moody.
Flower, though a superb cricketer cannot be separated from the recent defeats suffered by England. As batting coach it was his responsibility to get the best out of young players such as Bell (who apparently had his breakthrough innings) and Cook. Instead, these two players have not made progress and continue to frustrate. If Flower cannot succeed when responsible for just batsmen, he should not be appointed team coach.
Finding a coach should not be rushed, Peter Moores was rushed in and his tenure can now be looked on as being unsuccessful. The ECB cannot make another mistake with the World Cup now two years away, England seems to be constantly building for the future bringing in young players. Now is the time to settle on a team, a style of play and follow it through. This was recently done by South Africa, and now this team has just defeated Australia in Australia.
A short term coach is all very well, it appears Flower will get that, however the ECB must be pro-active during this time, to make sure English cricket goes forward and halts this slump.
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