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Flower: England role too much

George Dobell
November 28, 2012 « Tredwell to join England squad as spin cover | Chartbeat test »
Andy Flower has spent around 60% of nightrs away from his family and the situation was not about to get any easier for at least eight years © Getty Images
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Andy Flower, who has relinquished his day-to-day involvement with England's one-day side, has admitted that he found the conflicting demands of his coaching role "unsustainable" as he agonised over his need to contribute to a family life with his wife and three young children.

Flower, according to an estimate from England's managing director of cricket, Hugh Morris, has spent around 60% of his life away from home over the last few years - with no prospect that if he had maintained both roles the burden would ease for at least the next eight years.

Flower, the England coach since early 2008, will remain as England's team director with responsibility for the playing strategies and preparation of the team in all formats of the game. He remains in direct charge of the Test side but will relinquish the day-to-day management of the limited-overs teams to Ashley Giles, who will step down as Warwickshire's director of cricket.

ESPNcricinfo revealed that the ECB was exploring options to ease Flower's workload and that the ODI series against India in January was a potential series where Flower could be rested, with Giles in the running for the job. This appointment confirms that intention, with Flower's next engagement the Tests leg of England's New Zealand tour in March.

"We are all aware over the last five-and-a-half years since Andy's been involved that we've enjoyed some fantastic successes," Morris said. "Over that period Andy has missed a handful of days. We all know how busy the schedule is. Andy is 44 and has three young kids and spends a hell of a lot of time away from home.

"We also know over the next eight-year period we will have a similar volume of cricket. We need a step change in order to protect our greatest assets which are our players and our team director and senior management. We aim to retain our talent over a long period of time.

"We have played as much as India, ahead of Australia and pretty much all the other full member nations. Andy has had the busiest workload, including 15 overseas tours. Sixty per cent of his life has been in a hotel room. It is not sustainable for one person to be looking after all aspects of the game."

Flower agreed that the demands of England's touring schedule were not conducive to family life. Indeed, he suggested involvement in all three formats of the game might only be sustainable for single men or those with grown-up families.

"With young families it is very hard to get that work-life balance right," Flower said. "If you were single or had a grown up family then I think it would be more possible to do all three forms of the game.

"We have talked about what the most effective coaching structure for our national side is and we're still not sure. But we believe that this might be a more efficient use of our resources. With unlimited resources and unlimited high-quality coaching staff, you might even have two separate coaching teams.

"There is a bit of unfinished business. But I hope to see Ashley Giles and Alastair Cook hoisting a trophy above their heads at some stage. I will be watching but not there on a day to day level. It is a little sad to be stepping away to be honest. But I will certainly gain in other areas of my life. I don't believe this decision will bring an erosion of my authority or influence."

Both Flower and Morris dismissed the suggestion that the appointment of a second senior coach would create confusion or undermine Flower's position. Morris insisted that, such was their confidence in Giles as a man and a coach, there had been no need to consider any other candidates.

"I don't see it as an erosion of Andy's power," Morris said. "Ultimately he is accountable for playing strategy of all three formats of the game. He remains a selector and also has responsibility for the day to day planning. He will also see some young players he wouldn't have seen before in the county scene.

"We know Ashley Giles as a person and we know him as a coach. He has been through our coaching programme over the last four years and he has done a terrific job with Warwickshire."

Flower dismissed the suggestion that he was benefitting from just the sort of rest period denied to Kevin Pietersen. The difference, Flower contended , was that Pietersen had requested that he was omitted from the ODI squad while continuing in the T20 team, while the policy of the ECB remained that players were available either for all limited-overs cricket or none of it.

"He wanted to retire from 50 overs cricket and play T20 cricket," Flower said. "That is not in line with ECB policy. So the situations are not directly comparable."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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