Ian Baker - Andy Flower has transformed England
19 May 2010 - 11:29:42
England. World Cup winners 2010. It has a nice ring to it.
They so very nearly came a cropper against Ireland and the weather but really excelled during the latter stages of the World Twenty20 and in the end they were deserved winners.
Many people will point to the fact that their three South African-born - Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen - and one Irishman - Eoin Morgan - were influential men. They were. So were the other seven members of the squad.
But of most help of all was another man born outside the British Isles. That is Andy Flower, the former Zimbabwe captain and a key figure in England's recent improvement.
Since he took over from Peter Moores in January last year, Flower has turned England from a side in disarray to world beaters - in every form of the game.
Flower has a cool head on his shoulders. He is a very calm man who speaks intelligently about the game of cricket. That's really not surprising for a man who scored 4,794 runs at an average of 51.54 and then drew the world's respect by wearing a black armband in protest against Zimbabwean democracy at the 2003 Cricket World Cup thereby ending his international career prematurely.
The left-handed wicket-keeper/batsman is a very serious character but has warmth about his personality that must make him a joy to work with. Quite simply, he is a winner - and it is absolutely fantastic that England have stumbled across him.
People may point to how good a job that Paul Collingwood has done in the West Indies. Yes, he has done well and I do not want to begrudge him. But Flower has become the man, the leader. In 20 over cricket, a lot of the decisions can be made in planning meetings and training sessions.
His side have a remarkable team-spirit in all forms of the game - and the drive and will to win identified by their coach.
For so often, England have been regarded as the laughing stock of international cricket. Not any more.
I'm not saying they are the best in the world - or even top three - but they can give the elite a run for their money. Regaining the Ashes and winning the World Twenty20 is no mean feat. I'm not sure they would have done it without the efforts of Andy Flower.
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