Flower set for England job

2009-04-14 17:02

London - Andy Flower is the overwhelming favourite to be named as the man to oversee England's bid to win the Ashes.

According to the BBC website, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced it will unveil its new team director on Wednesday afternoon.

Flower, 40, spent much of the Easter break locked in talks with national selector Geoff Miller at Lord's.

Other top candidates have dropped out and BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said: "It's possible just one man has been in the frame throughout."

Flower was made assistant coach to Peter Moores in 2007, and when Moores was sacked in January he became interim coach for the tour to West Indies.

Though England lost the Test series there, they did win the one-day internationals - and the appointment of Flower would leave the selectors free to deliberate on the squad for the first Test of the return series against West Indies, which starts at Lord's on 6 May.

Agnew said: "The ECB's promise of a shortlist looks very short indeed. Flower's credentials were strengthened, funnily enough, through England's defeat in the first Test in the West Indies - when his honest and straight talking impressed everyone.

"Though he was on (former captain) Kevin Pietersen's hit list in the New Year he is widely respected by the players."

Mickey Arthur, the coach who has taken South Africa to top of the one-day rankings and guided them to a Test series win in Australia in the winter, had shown interest in the role in March.

But two weeks later he revealed he was not prepared to negotiate a release from his contract with Cricket South Africa.

Another possibility, Kent's former South Africa coach Graham Ford, said he found the slow recruitment process frustrating and pulled himself out of the race.

John Buchanan, the highly successful former Australia coach, and India's current coach Gary Kirsten also distanced themselves - as did Tom Moody, who was reluctant to move his family back to England from Perth.

Moody, who proved a hit when in charge of the Sri Lanka side, would have been available when Duncan Fletcher resigned following England's woeful 2006-07 winter.

But it was then that the ECB chose to promote Moores from the academy.

Flower, a former Zimbabwe captain at one time ranked the best batsman in the world, hit 12 Test centuries in 63 matches at an average of 51.54.

He retired from international cricket after the 2003 World Cup, and following a protest by Flower and his team-mate Henry Olonga over what they called the "death of democracy" in Zimbabwe.

Flower played for Essex for five seasons, the last of those in 2006, where his skill and experience helped nurture the careers of the county's current England batsmen Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara.

Last Thursday, Miller said he wanted an appointment to be made "as soon as possible" so that he could get on with choosing players for the first Test against West Indies starting on 6 May.

In Flower's favour, Miller added: "My relationship with Andy is good and his relationship with (England captain) Andrew Strauss is very good."

England face arguably their busiest and most important summer for years.

After the Test and one-day series against West Indies in May, early June is occupied by the ICC World Twenty20 which England themselves host.

The first of the five-match Ashes series against Australia starts in Cardiff on 8 July, four years after the side captained by Michael Vaughan and coached by Fletcher won an epic contest.

Australia regained the Ashes by thrashing an England team led by Andrew Flintoff 5-0 on home soil in 2006/07.