The elder of two Test-playing brothers, Andy Flower was for a long time Zimbabwe’s only batsman of true Test quality in all conditions. For a period of about two years from the start of 2000 he was so phenomenally consistent that he has no rival as the best player in Zimbabwe’s history.
Flower continued to take on the tough roles, moving into coaching within the England set-up, firstly as assistant to Peter Moores and then, after the very public falling out between Moores and Kevin Pietersen, he was named interim coach for the 2009 West Indies Tour. A few weeks after that trip the top job, team director, came his way.
He had two stints as Zimbabwe captain, leading them to their first Test victory against Pakistan in 1994-95, and then becoming the first Zimbabwean to lead a Test tour of England, in 2000. An assured player of fast bowling since his early days as an opener, Flower matured into one of the best players of spin in the world, and on the Indian tour early in 2001 he made 540 runs for twice out.
Opposing bowlers targeted him accordingly and after a phenomenal Test against South Africa at Harare, when he made 142 and 199 not out, he suffered a rare slump. He announced his retirement from international cricket after a turbulent 2003 World Cup, which started with an unprecedented protest by Flower, and his equally brave team-mate Henry Olonga, about what they called the ‘death of democracy’ in Zimbabwe.
Flower played for Essex from 2002 until 2006, and enjoyed a season in South Australia in 2003-04.
He was joined at Essex by his brother Grant in 2005, and they became the first brothers to score first-class centuries for the county in the same innings against Lancashire that year. But injury ruled him out of the 2007 season, and when the offer came to become England’s assistant coach, he retired and took it.
But any thoughts of enjoying a few years under the wing of Peter Moores vanished in early January 2009 and less than 48 hours later he was thrust in charge of the national team. When England crumbled for 51 in Jamaica, Flower’s calm but authoritative response impressed many and his standing improved throughout the tour.
He had confronted many challenges in his career, but the manner in which took to the England coaching job showed his previous successes in a new and even more flattering light. Presented at last with a team capable of living up to his own lofty standards, he forged an unbreakable bond with his captain Andrew Strauss, and set about raising standards on all fronts.
Within his first two years at the helm, Flower had won two Ashes campaigns, home and away, achieved unmatched levels of consistency in 50-over cricket, and delivered England their first global ICC trophy at the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean in May 2010. He was at the helm in 2011, when England battered India 4-0 in a much-anticipated Test series that culminated in them moving to No. 1 in the Test rankings.
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