New England coach Flower is used to daunting tasks

April 15, 2009

Andy Flower, appointed England director of cricket on Wednesday, was responsible with Zimbabwe team mate Henry Olonga for a startling and unprecedented protest in his team’s opening 2003 World Cup match.

Flower and Olonga took the field against Namibia in Harare on Feb. 10, 2003, wearing black armbands to “mourn the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe”.

“We cannot in good conscience take to the field and ignore the fact millions of our compatriots are starving, unemployed and oppressed,” the pair said in a joint statement.

Cricket followers had been aware over the previous decade that Flower possessed abundant physical and mental fortitude.

Now he had demonstrated equivalent moral courage in the face of intense pressure from the Zimbabwe authorities who threatened to drop him from the squad if he did not abandon his protest.

They were forced to back down when other senior players said they would not take the field if Flower was omitted.

The Wisden almanac called Flower and Olonga’s statement “calm, dignified and lethally clear”.

It was, though, the end of the international road for Flower who took his wife and family to England where he played for Essex before joining the national team setup as batting coach and now director of cricket after head coach Peter Moores was sacked before this year’s West Indies tour.

Flower, 40, by some distance the best player produced by Zimbabwe, was always a realist.

“When I started taking cricket seriously, I never actually had a high regard for whatever talent I had,” he told Wisden.

“Seeing the ball, hitting it, there were plenty of other cricketers who did that better than I did. But I thought one area where I could be better than them was to be more determined, more hungry and not give anything away.”

The result of this determination and application was an outstanding player who is statistically the most successful batsman of all test wicketkeepers, despite Zimbabwe’s general weakness.

In 63 tests the nuggety left-hander averaged 51.54 with 12 centuries and at one stage was ranked the world’s number one batsman. Keeping to an attack who caught the batsman’s edge less than any other test team, Flower took 151 catches and effected nine stumpings.

Although Flower’s playing credentials are impeccable and his personal reputation irreproachable, his new job presents different demands.

Flower must balance the political demands which accompany any high-profile job in English sport, the constant media attention and the exhausting schedule of the national team who play more cricket than any other country.

In his favour is a history of overcoming the most daunting of odds.

PHOTO: New England cricket coach Andy Flower poses for photographers on the balcony at Lord’s cricket ground after a news conference, London April 15, 2009. Former Zimbabwe wicketkeeper Flower was confirmed as England’s new team director on Wednesday by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

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wasnt Flower mentioned in Pietersen’s infamous email alongside Moores? That could be a problem

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive