Cow Corner

Chain him up at Lord’s if you have to, but keep Flower in England

Cow Corner

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It is very easy to take success for granted in the moment; just ask Australia. England have won the last three successive Ashes series, the latest of them with considerable ease, and we've got to the point where the victories aren't fully appreciated. And nor is the man who masterminded them.

That man is Andy Flower.

Now, it seems that England's team director could be walking off into the sunset with the warm glow of a job well done. Everything must be done to stop that happening.

Sooner or later England must, of course, embrace change, but it cannot come late enough with Flower, the constant figure behind his side's rich record since he took over in the role.

Flower, arguably the most positive influence on England cricket in a generation, may well step down from his day-to-day coaching role with the side after the tour of Australia this winter - or even earlier, if some reports are to be believed.

After the final Ashes Test at The Oval, Flower declined to deny suggestions that he is considering stepping down from his position with the England Test team.

Flower insisted that he was "not thinking about" the vacancy left after Hugh Morris gave up his role as managing editor of England cricket, and did not feel able to provide any reassurances regarding his current position.

"I've always said you can't look too far ahead," he said. "You never know what's just round the corner.

"Would I fancy Hugh's job? I'm not even thinking about that."

It is worth considering Flower's circumstances before dismissing out of hand the notion that a hugely successful hands-on team director would possibly want to move upstairs into a position traditionally occupied by a suit-wearing diplomat.

Flower has a young family and has travelled the world with England since early 2009. He has also repeatedly talked of his struggle to find a work-life balance with the day-to-day coaching and management of an international Test side.

England's relentless schedule - often involving him being away for up to 250 days a year - has already seen Flower dramatically scale back his workload at the end of last year, having passed the limited-overs baton over to Warwickshire's former Championship-winning coach Ashley Giles.

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England play only one overseas Test next year, in Sydney at the start of January, later moving to ODI cricket ahead of the World Cup in February and March 2015, but will that relatively small respite keep him in his current role beyond the next Ashes series?

Sounding very much like a managing director, Flower said: "The reason [for stepping back] was to get a better work-life balance. Being away from home for 250 days a year didn't allow that. And we were also looking at maximising the use of our resources, in this instance our coaching resources. The structure is still bedding down, but having two coaches dovetailing may well be the best use of the ECB's resources.

"I don't have a fixed term contract. I'm very happy with the balance and I'm still enjoying the job. Very much so. It's too far away to think if I will be there. I don't think I'll be under-employed. There's always plenty to do. I've always said you can't look too far ahead."

Flower would likely succeed if he assumed Morris's role, but that should not detract from the fact that his departure from the day-to-day management of the England team would be an enormous blow for the players and, perhaps, for their form.

While Giles would be a worthy replacement in all forms of the game, Flower's achievements cannot be overstated.

Flower has helped England to win Ashes series home and away, taken them to number one in the world at Test and one-day cricket and delivered a World Twenty20 trophy.

"I think whatever role Andy wants to do in the future he will do outstandingly well," Morris said.

"He is somebody who I've always admired before he came into the ECB as a player as a person. He has done an outstanding job in his current role. Whatever he wants to put his mind to do in the future, he will do well."

While Morris is undoubtedly right, England will be desperate for Flower to remain in his current role for as long as possible. His achievements will be almost impossibly difficult to replicate.

There's only one possible response: England must do everything in their power to keep him. Shower him in chocolates and champagne; buy him a stake in a racehorse; chain him up in a dungeon beneath Lord's if you must. If Flower leaves, it's England who will wilt.

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