Bring on the summer
Posted in England v West Indies 2009
It's going to be a tough summer for the England team. We have the West Indies, the World Twenty20 and then that little thing called The Ashes. It's going to be a wonderful few months but one or two stiff hurdles for the guys to get over.
The West Indies showed during England's tour a lot more discipline and spirit than in recent years. I think it's going to be an excellent two-Test series in May. Providing we get some decent weather we should see some good cricket.
They are a good one-day side too, with the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and a huge man in the middle order, Kieron Pollard, who bowls some medium pace and whacks it miles. They have an interesting set-up.
Andy Flower's appointment as team director is a good one. He's a good, solid man. People talk about respect and what he did in Zimbabwe when he was playing demands respect. People say it's easy to be a star in a weak side, but he got runs against all the best teams in the world, like Australia and West Indies when they were a force. You have to be a very good player to do that, and he kept wicket too. He is a strong character.
From a distance, it looks like he and Straussy worked really well together in the West Indies. They got the team together and managed to calm some choppy waters. They seem to want to go in the same direction. They have good characters and have some good ideals.
Straussy managed to get some runs in the Caribbean and that will have done him a huge amount of good but also quietened a few people who might have made it a bit rocky for him, like the press who might have wondered whether he could have coped with the captaincy. He has answered those questions.
It's time for him and Andy to sit down and work out where they want to go. A similar tone might be taken as when Nasser Hussain took over, that we haven't performed as well as we can. The players need to look at themselves and ask whether they are performing to the best of their ability. We are a good side but need a bit of consistency. That's what Andrew and Andy will be looking for. It comes with discipline though.
The two of them will get together and put their cards on the table with the boys - this is where we want to go and we want you to come with us.
I only really played under two coaches - Don Bennett was coach all the time I was at Middlesex, while Micky Stewart was in charge of England. I got on extraordinarily well with both of them. They both had high standards that they wanted to set and were tough but fair. That's all you can hope for in a coach. Coaches don't want to keep telling players what to do. Players should work it out themselves and understand where they are going.