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Flower steps down as England coach

ANDREW Flower stepped down as England cricket coach with the three lions seeking to rebuild after the disastrous showing in the latest Ashes.

ANDREW Flower stepped down as England cricket coach with the three lions seeking to rebuild after the disastrous showing in the latest Ashes.

There were more big name casualties and we wait to see if it will turn around the fortunes of the team and more importantly how long it will take.

The world of professional sport reacts harshly to failure and all the success preceding it is quickly forgotten. Former Zimbabwean skipper and world number one-ranked Test batsman Flower had presented a plan to make England the number one Test-playing country.

The plan was approved by the ECB and he was appointed team director. Flower full filled his promise and England swept all before them in the Test arena. They reached the dizzy heights of number 1 on the International Cricket Council Test Ranking.

However, it all came undone when a Mitchell Johnson inspired Australia blasted England 5-0 in the latest Ashes, the pride of Test cricket.

There were many issues in the English camp including the much documented mid-tour retirements of Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott.

Heads were always going to roll and one of the casualties was star batsman, Kevin Pieterson. Long seen as the bad boy of English cricket, the South Africa-born and bred hard-hitting top order batsman was viewed as a distraction in the dressing room.

His contract was not renewed and he is currently the only English player in the India Premier League (IPL) where he has not had it all his own way. The rest of the team is preparing for a full series against Sri Lanka.

This was not enough for the powers that be and Flower who had given up his role in the shorter versions of the game was rumoured to have been given the “ship out or be pushed out option”.

The official reason for his departure was, to allow a coach to rebuild through all the formats of the game and “ensure complete clarity and continuity across the squads”.

Flower achieved the unthinkable and turned what was quick becoming a mediocre England side into the best in the world. He even defeated the Aussies in an Ashes series in their own back yard. Many will argue that Flower had nothing left to prove as both a player and a coach. He is likely to take up a developmental coaching role with the England Cricket Board.

Flower accepted full responsibility for the poor show in the Ashes. Maybe one day he can bring his vast knowledge back home and work with brother and current batting coach, Grant Flower. This seems highly unlikely after his infamous “Black arm bend” protest during the 2003 World Cup.

The immediate future of English Cricket will be interesting. The one man to retain his post amid all the chaos is skipper Alistair Cook. The top order looks more than likely to feature Moeen Ali who had a very successful season with local Franchise, Tuskers and was part of a Logan Cup winning team.

The other new face is Zimbabwe-born Gary Balance who featured well for MidWest Rhinos and has been on fire on the county circuit.

Flower may be gone, but the Zimbabwean influence on the team looks set to continue, ironic for a country that is critical of Zimbabwe Cricket. Another Zimbabwean, Duncan Fletcher enjoyed a successful stint as England coach.

The IPL is still going the same with the lead swopping between the Chennai Supper Kings and the Kings X1 Punjab. Glen Maxwell is still scoring runs at a serious rate and leads the run scorers chart. It has been good to Virenda Sehwag back in form and scoring runs for fun.

This week we take a look at the players not doing so well. Big-hitting West Indian Chris Gayle has briefly flattered to deceive and his poor form is one of the reasons the Royal Challengers Bangalore are closer to the bottom of the table than the top.

New Zealand all rounder Correy Anderson, who set the world alight when he broke the quickest one-day international 100 record, has found the going difficult and struggled to get into double figures. Quinton de Kock made the world take notice when he scored three 100s in a series against the Indians for South Africa.

He too has not got going and despite a few glimpses of his capabilities he has not been at the crease long enough to back up his huge price tag. He has just 153 runs in his seven outings and a strike rate of 117.

This week’s letter is “W”, for wicket; the playing area between the two sets of stumps that is cut and rolled. It can also be a dismissed batsman.