Flower shines in England


England cricket coach Andy Flower has won the BBC Sports Personality Coach of the Year award after masterminding the team’s rise to the top of Test cricket.

His side won the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 24 years in January before usurping India as the number one Test side with a 4-0 series victory.

The Zimbabwean (43) was named Coach of the Year and High-Performance Coach at the 2011 United Kingdom Coaching Awards last month.

He beat Warren Gatland and Sir Alex Ferguson to the BBC award.

Gatland led Wales to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup while Ferguson steered Manchester United to a record 19th Premier League title and the final of the Champions League.

The winner was decided by a panel of national and regional sports editors.

Flower, who took over as England coach in 2009, has transformed a fragmented and inconsisent team into arguably the fittest and most professional operation in world cricket.

A notoriously hard taskmaster, he has imbued the team with a ruthless streak, with the batsmen regularly turning centuries into double-hundreds and the bowlers routinely tearing through the finest batting line-ups in the game.

Nowhere was that better exhibited than during the summer, when England overtook India as the number one Test side.

Despite the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Dhoni in the India team, none of the four matches truly resembled contests as England won by 196 runs, 319 runs, an innings and 242 runs and an innings and eight runs.

The staggering margins of victory continued a theme established during the winter down under when England romped to mammoth wins in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney to win the Ashes series 3-1.

The triumph ignited jubilant scenes as England’s players and their army of fans — so accustomed to humilation on Australian soil — danced on the Sydney outfield, while even the usually stoical Flower allowed himself a smile of satisfaction.

Flower, who started out as England assistant coach in 2007, also oversaw a Test series victory over Sri Lanka and home one-day series wins over Sri Lanka and India in 2011.

But their limited-overs performances away from home were disappointing, with the team limping out of the 50-over World Cup at the quarter-final stage and suffering heavy defeats in Australia and India.

Ever the perfectionist, Flower will be straining every sinew to take England to the top of the one-day game in 2012.