By Dominic Farrell
ECB Chairman Giles Clarke paid warm tribute to Andy Flower – proclaiming the outgoing Team Director as England’s most successful coach.
Yesterday Flower informed the ECB that he wished to stand down after five decorated years in the role.
As the former Zimbabwe batsman prepares for the next chapter of his career in another role within English and Welsh cricket’s governing body, Giles listed the raft of impressive achievements accomplished since Flower took the reins alongside then-captain Andrew Strauss in early 2009
“He’s led us to three Ashes successes; to our first ever ICC global event; to number one in the ICC Test rankings and these triumphs identify him as the most successful coach in English cricket history,” Clarke said.
“On behalf of all of us in cricket in England and Wales, and certainly on behalf of the ECB, I would like to thank him for his tireless efforts across the country and I look forward to working with him in his new role at the ECB.
“He’s a man of enormous integrity and, while we were very reluctant to see him stand down, we respect that decision.”
Clarke was at pains to point out that the decision to step aside was solely Flower’s, the 45-year-old keen to see the role of England coach unified once more alongside captain Alastair Cook in the wake of this winter’s Ashes defeat.
In December 2012 current limited-overs coach Ashley Giles took charge of the one-day formats to allow Flower to focus on the Test arena and spend more time with his young family.
“This is Andy’s decision,” Clarke explained. “Andy has been concerned that, because there are players who go across formats, it is extremely important to have the same culture in the England side in terms of preparation, management, the way they approach everything and the way they relate to one another.
“I think (since) December 2012 when we decided with Andy that we would split the roles we’ve learnt quite a lot about what it’s like dividing those roles and he felt that it was now important to bring the roles back together.
“Going forward, the development of what clearly is going to be a new team – we’ve had a great team who are reaching the end of their careers, which was really Andrew Strauss’ team as much as any - for Alastair Cook and the new Cook era, the three formats should be unified under one coach. That was his fundamental decision.
“Once that decision had been reached, as he didn’t want to be coach over all three (formats), it was clear what his next decision would be.”
Giles and his team are now training their sights on the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and, with no further Test action until the home June series against Sri Lanka, new ECB Managing Director Paul Downton will have time to thoroughly assess England’s next move.
Clarke added: “Paul Downton will obviously take full charge of that process. We don’t play any Test cricket until June so we have quite a break, during which time we are focussing on the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
“Ashley is in charge of all that anyway, is in charge of the side in the West Indies and will take charge of the side continuously, so that process is pretty clear.”