ANDY Flower, one of Zimbabweâ€™s finest cricketers of all time, is one of the frontrunners to become the next England coach following the sacking of Peter Moores this week.
Flower, who was assistant coach under Moores, is tipped to take charge of the team on an interim basis for the West Indies tour at the end of this month. Moores was relieved of his duties following a public rift with captain Kevin Pietersen, who stepped down as captain this week. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was also concerned about the teamâ€™s lack of progress under Moores.
If appointed, 40-year-old Flower will follow in the footsteps of former Zimbabwean stalwart captain Duncan Fletcher, who also coached the England national side. Fletcher was Mooresâ€™ predecessor.
â€œIf Flower is put in charge of the coming tour of the West Indies and does a good job it could even be him. He was an outstanding Test cricketer and the players are said to respect him,â€ reported The Guardian online edition yesterday.
â€œFlower has a lot of things going for him, but sadly serious coaching credentials are not among them. While he did noticeably improve the batting of Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook against the Indian spinners during the recent Test series he has simply not been a coach for long enough to be judged on his record.
By equal measure it would be unfair to taint him overly with the failings of Moores,â€ added the website.
The ECB is said to be in favour of a former international cricketer of credit to take over.
Flower is regarded as one of the best international wicketkeeper-batsmen of all time. He played 63 Test matches for Zimbabwe and has the most Test career runs for the country with 4.794 runs. His 51.54 is also Zimbabweâ€™s highest Test average.
But the former Zimbabwe captain faces a stiff challenge.
Leading website, Cricinfo, named Flower among five top-class former internationals as contenders for the job. The others are former England spinner Ashley Giles, ex-South African first-class cricketer Graham Ford, ex-Australia international and former Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody, and former England captain Michael Vaughan.
Wrote Cricinfoâ€™s Andrew Miller of Flower: â€œZimbabweâ€™s greatest player, and one of the finest players of spin of all time, Flower has more than enough pedigree to satisfy Pietersenâ€™s thirst (Pietersen had not announced his resignation) for a counterpart who can challenge and inspire.
Liked and respected by the dressing-room, and after the trials and tribulations of his playing days, he is well-versed in the political shenanigans that increasingly play a part in top-level cricket.â€
He however pointed out Flowerâ€™s association with Moores as a disadvantage.
â€œMooresâ€™ second-in-command, and therefore guilty by association for the stagnation that has gripped the team this year. As batting coach, he has proved powerless to inject any urgency into Ian Bellâ€™s career, or halt the alarming regression of Alastair Cook. Was already rumoured to be seeking a new challenge after an unfulfilling year.â€ â€” Staff Writer.