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Flower no shrinking violet

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Andrew Strauss & Andy Flower

Andy Flower has had a good start to his time as England coach and built a close relationship with Andrew Strauss

Andy Flower may still be a newcomer to international coaching but he has already established a reputation as a man capable of making the tough decisions necessary to win an Ashes series.

His spell as interim coach in the Caribbean this winter could not have got off to a worse start, with England slumping to an innings-and-23-runs defeat at Sabina Park after being dismissed for just 51 in only 33.2 overs.

Rather than adopt a defensive stance against the inevitable criticism, Flower spoke openly and honestly in the immediate aftermath of that defeat and talked of it being “a watershed moment for this England side”.

His straight talking and determination to act quickly resulted in England performing impressively for the remainder of the series even if they were unable to prevent West Indies sealing a 1-0 triumph.

Flower has also shown his steely side this summer, overlooking the clamour for the return of former captain Michael Vaughan to install Ravi Bopara at number three.

And the Essex man responded in some style, scoring successive centuries in the home series against West Indies in May.

The ease with which Flower has made the progression from assistant coach under Peter Moores to become England's main man has not, however, surprised those who have known him for some time.

Andy Flower

The Zimbabwean was the interim coach during the tour to the West Indies and got the permanent job at the start of the summer

Former Zimbabwe bowler Henry Olonga, who made headlines with Flower by making an infamous black armband protest against the regime of Zimbabwe premier Robert Mugabe during the 2003 World Cup, has been particularly impressed.

“Just being a great player doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be a great captain or a great coach,” said Olonga.

“The greatest players tend to have difficulty in empathising with lesser-skilled players, but Andy has done well.”

Lancashire coach Moores is equally confident about Flower's ability to conquer the role despite his inexperience.

Prior to being called into England's backroom staff by Moores, Flower's only experience of coaching had been back home in Zimbabwe, with Essex and at the National Academy.

“He's got a good tactical brain,” enthused Moores. “Anyone who has been a captain of a Test match team has been challenged to think long and hard about the game and that experience is obviously a valuable thing to have.

“He's a man with very strong principles as well so he's a good, strong character and as a coach he's got a lot to offer.

“If you speak to any of the Essex players who have had time with him as a player or the lads at the Academy that worked with him, I think they've all enjoyed working with him.

“He found a way of getting the best out of himself as a player and obviously one of the main things a coach is trying to do is help players get the best out of themselves."

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