Should England Sack Andy Flower or Back Their Coach?

Chris Teale@@chris_tealeFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 30:  England Test cricket coach Andy Flower speaks to the media during a press conference on December 30, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

England’s disastrous Ashes tour of Australia has ended with a humiliating 5-0 whitewash for the hosts, and there are some who are calling for England’s coach Andy Flower to be removed from his position immediately.

The 45-year-old has been in charge of the England team since 2009, and while he has helped lead them to three Ashes triumphs, the ICC World Twenty20 and No. 1 in the ICC Rankings, there are some who say his tenure has run its course after this demolition by the Baggy Green.

Perhaps the time is right for a change in England’s management, especially as it seems likely that more players will be replaced in the team as they look to rebuild.

However, Flower could be the man to help drive that rebuilding process, given his experience and what he has already achieved at the helm.

Let’s take a look at reasons for and against Andy Flower being removed from his position as Team Director of England and try to come to a conclusion.

Sack: Lack of Enjoyment Among the Players

Throughout this series in Australia, England’s players have looked jaded and even disinterested at times, as they appear to have had their energy sapped.

In part, this is due to the international calendar and the ECB’s desire for their team to play as many games as possible, despite the increased risk of player burnout.

However, this can also be down to Flower’s regime, as its intensity and attention to detail when it comes to preparation leaves little room for individual expression and enjoyment.

As a point of comparison, since he was appointed Australia's coach, Darren Lehmann has made a point of letting his players enjoy themselves both on and off the field, as reported on by Brydon Coverdale of ESPN Crincinfo.

His introduction of “Joke of the Day,” where one player has to stand up in front of his teammates and tell a joke he has had 24 hours to prepare is just one way he has kept things fresh for the Baggy Green.

At times, England have cut frustrated figures in the field, no longer playing their game with the enjoyment of old.

Flower has to take at least some of the blame for this.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 05:  Michael Carberry of England has his bat broken by a delivery from Ryan Harris of Australia during day three of the Fifth Ashes Test match between Australia and England at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 5, 2014 in Sydney,
Matt King/Getty Images

Sack: The Failure of Flower’s Fellow Coaches

Flower is also responsible for the results of his other coaches in the England set-up, most notably batting coach Graham Gooch and bowling coach David Saker.

In this series, England’s batting has failed spectacularly as only Ben Stokes was able to score a century in any of the five Tests as he hit 120 in Perth.

The tourists have seen numerous batting collapses—like the bad old days of the 1990s—and the responsibility for those must lay squarely at the feet of Gooch and, by extension, Flower as his boss.

Their capitulation in the second innings at Sydney, where they lost all 10 wickets in just 31.4 overs, was the final straw.

In addition, England’s bowlers have looked toothless and clueless throughout, especially James Anderson.

One of the best fast bowlers in the world, the ball has not swung at all for the Lancashire right-armer as he took 14 wickets at an average of 43.92.

Further to this, England’s three giant seamers Chris Tremlett, Boyd Rankin and Steven Finn—brought specifically to exploit the steepling bounce on Australian wickets—played just two games between them as none could find the form necessary.

The blame for this failure, and their selection in the first place, must be levelled at Saker and Flower.

Sack: To Freshen Things Up

This Ashes tour has seen the retirement of spinner Graeme Swann, the return home of Jonathan Trott due to a stress-related illness and Matt Prior’s total loss of form with both bat and gloves.

All three were crucial players as England surged to No. 1 in the ICC Test Rankings, and now all three may never play for their country again.

With replacements being tested out and sure to come in during the English summer, perhaps now is a good time to freshen things up completely and bring in a new coach too.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 10:  Ashley Giles of England talks during a press conference ahead of the third NatWest One Day International Series match between England and Australia at Edgbaston on September 10, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Ashley Giles appears to be the first-choice candidate to replace Flower, per George Dobell at the MCG (ESPN Crincinfo), and what better way to usher in a new era of English cricket with some new faces in the team and a new man leading them?

Back: A Good Partnership with Captain Cook

Crucial to the success of any international cricket team is the partnership between coach and captain, and Flower appears to have a strong one with Alastair Cook.

Both are still relatively new to their jobs and still have much to learn, but the foundations are there for these two to lead England into a new era together.

With Cook adamant he is the right man to lead his country, per a report by Liam Prenderville of the Mirror, it would make sense to have Flower alongside him as the two men work well together.

While England’s captain has plenty to ponder, given a vast workload that is virtually unrivalled anywhere in the world game, surely the right man to be standing beside him as coach would be Flower.

Back: Continuity in Time of Transition

With that being said, perhaps it is for the best that Flower stays in the England set-up and presides over what will be a period of rebuilding for the national side.

Having taken charge in 2009 and witnessed his side bowled out for 51 by the West Indies, Flower was crucial in helping mould the side and make them the best in the world.

He brought in Jonathan Trott, while getting the best out of Stuart Broad, Prior and Andrew Flintoff, in the twilight of his career and rebuilt the squad’s confidence after a difficult period.

Now, after another demolition job—this time by Australia—Flower would surely have the experience and know-how to help lead a new squad into a bright future.

A coach who is widely respected and with a reputation as a good judge of a player, the Zimbabwean’s help in rebuilding this side would surely give it a massive boost.

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - MAY 16:  England captain Paul Collingwood (C) with the trophy at the presentations after his teams victory against Australia in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 played at the Kensington Oval on May 16, 2010 in Bridgetown, Barbado
Julian Herbert/Getty Images

Back: His Achievements Already

Since taking over in 2009, Flower has presided over unprecedented success for the England cricket team and will feel that he still has plenty to offer.

When he was elevated to the role to replace Peter Moores, Flower inherited a team low on morale and lacking in confidence, especially after the resignation of Kevin Pietersen as captain.

That same year, England regained the Ashes on home turf against a strong Australia side before going on to enjoy great success.

The win of the ICC World Twenty20 in 2010 was an unexpected triumph for an England side that had, up until then, offered little in limited-overs cricket.

This experience of success in international cricket shows that Flower is up to the task, as does England’s recent series victory away to India in difficult conditions.

Few coaches in world cricket can point to the achievements that Flower has already gained, and keeping him involved with England would surely help them move forward.


He may have received the backing of the ECB to remain in the job until 2015, per ESPN Crincinfo, but Flower’s position as England coach remains precarious.

However, for the ECB to remove Flower now would not be the wisest decision, especially with the team entering a phase of rebuilding after this 5-0 defeat to Australia.

There are few better candidates in world cricket to lead England into a new era, and Flower should be allowed to do so.


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