Andy Flower sacked as England coach

Well well. Didn’t see this coming.

Andy Flower has paid the price for England’s Ashes humiliation and his reign as coach is over.

Telegraph Sport can reveal Flower was called into a meeting at Lord’s on Thursday and told his time is up by Paul Downton, the new managing director of England cricket who has been conducting a review of England’s disastrous tour to Australia.

It will be announced when England return from Australia that Flower will be stepping down after being given no choice by the ECB but to call it a day.

Flower has coached England since 2009 in which time he has won the Ashes three times and led England to their first World Twenty20 title in his first year in charge.

England beat Australia 3-0 last summer in the home Ashes but succumbed to a humiliating 5-0 whitewash in the return series Down Under.

Has there ever been an England tour so calamitous in terms of results? I hope Flower is remembered for the good he did England, not just this tour. But, as Mike Atherton once said of captaincy, all tenures must inevitably end in some degree of failure, and the same is true of coaching.

Nick Hoult has the scoop.

Monty’s two-finger salute

It’s been as emphatic a two-finger salute to Duncan Fletcher as he could have produced; a five-wicket haul, enthusiastic fielding and a classy cameo at No.11. Monty Panesar hasn’t put a foot wrong and has made Fletcher look even more stubborn, righteous and pig-headed than we already suspected.

And his time is nigh. This is it for Fletcher. Only he will reason why he chose to alter a winning attack for the first Test at Brisbane, trying blindly to resurrect the dream of Ashes 2005. But come January the call for his head will ring louder than the Barmy Army’s bugler, and so it should. For all his outstanding work during his tenure, his copybook has been spectacularly blotted. Sadly, for he really did help engineer a change in attitude in English cricket (for the better), he is now a millstone around England’s neck.

Before this series, any decision he made was justified by the media. Nasser Hussain, in particular, has always been quick to defend Fletcher’s selections while describing him as a coach who rarely, if ever, makes the wrong choice. When Monty on-drove Stuart Clark for four, straight back past the bowler, during a vital last-wicket hurrah with Steve Harmison, there were quizzical looks from the Australian fielders. Who is this bearded wonder? It was as classy an on-drive as any left-hander could have dreamed for. And another nail in Fletcher’s coffin.

A rift through the English team?

This can not be a positive for England:

A MAJOR internal rift is brewing in the England camp following the revelation that coach Duncan Fletcher has been wrongly blamed for snubbing spin bowling cult hero Monty Panesar.

Fletcher is privately fuming at being held accountable for omitting Panesar from the Adelaide Test, a match where England’s No.1 spinner Ashley Giles took just 2-149 to leave his career hanging by a thread.

The Courier-Mail has learned that at team selection meetings in Adelaide, Fletcher leaned toward Panesar to play in the Test but captain Andrew Flintoff went for his Lancashire teammate, swing bowler Jimmy Anderson, who went on to perform poorly and may not play another Test on tour.

Flintoff won out after the issue was discussed by a committee of senior players including Geraint Jones and Andrew Strauss.

The fallout over the omission of Panesar has become so great in England that it is threatening to undermine Fletcher’s future as England coach and also drive a wedge between Fletcher and Flintoff.

It is remarkable England performed as well as they did in the Second Test given this dispute, and it is hard to imagine what the mood is like in the English camp now. These relevations make things work; the British media will be on to them like a pack of dogs on a three legged cat.

Lehmann England’s next coach?

Darren Gough is a bit of a rumour merchant, but he does know Darren Lehmann pretty well. And last night, Gough said Lehmann was a “strong rumour” to replace Duncan Fletcher as England coach. Thanks to Rod:

The old boy stories continue with the news of an on-stage interview with Darren Gough last night, at the Adelaide pre-Test dinner. The former England bowler said that Darren Lehmann, the South Australian skipper, was a ‘strong rumour’ as the next England coach after Duncan Fletcher. Whether it was a blast at the current coach is unknown, but Gough said: “He teaches enjoyment to the players… his knowledge is second-to-none, especially of the England players after playing in the country for so long.”

Thoughts?

England fight back, and some thoughts on coaches

To the audible relief of South Australian cricket administrators, England provided some much needed resistance on day four, and saved them the prospect of half-empty stands for the Second Test starting on Friday.

England were set an insane target, worked out by Ricky Ponting on the formula of multiplying my overdraft times the speed of light, or some such nonsense, and let his bowlers loose, while retiring to the massage table. He would have dined well as England lost two early wickets, and with Cook playing a range of loose shots, promise of more to come.

However, Pieterson and Collingwood provided stout resistance and some fiery entertainment for another large crowd, stated as being 37,000.

Yet England will surely lose, and they deserve to lose- while there was some magnificent batsmanship today, there was also some shameful episodes. Strauss, Cook, Collingwood, Flintoff and Pieterson were all guilty of some dreadful shot selection at various points in the day, treating an Ashes Test as little more then a knockabout in the park.

Pieterson’s innings was an instructive example. There was some lovely drives, all through the V, yet there were also some grotesque cross-bat swipes. None of these have cost him his wicket (as yet), but what happens if rain comes about three PM tomorrow and England have been bowled out at 2.35?

If England had batted with a slightly more applied approach, they might well have been three wickets down tonight, not five. That’s a big difference.

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What do readers think about Andrew Flintoff’s dismissal? Shane Warne gave him an ugly serve on his way, and Justin Langer was smiling in delight even before he took the catch; the arrogance of it will grate on English sensibilities.

But it is an arrogance reflective of an Australian team that knows the value of their wickets, and the absolute folly of Flintoff’s shot. I don’t recall Ricky Ponting playing such an agricultural heave during his defensive masterpiece at Old Trafford last year. Duncan Fletcher may or may not remind his charges of that innings between now and the morning.

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Speaking of coaches, I came across this article on my web-meanderings this evening, asking about the worth of overseas coaches. Given the kvetching about Duncan Fletcher that I’ve read in British media outlets the last few days, I wondered about the role of the coach.

It seems to me that for a coach to be a benefit, rather then a hindrance, there needs to be an absolute understanding between the coach and his captain. In many first class teams, it seems to be the increasing trend that the coach is the top banana and the captain merely his on-field lieutenant, rather in the way a football manager operates. That may work, but there does need to be a clear line driven, and both sides working in tandem.

It’s never been the Australian way. Would you fancy being the coach telling Steve Waugh how he was to arrange his batting order? John Buchanan always knew his place in Waugh’s order of things.

I’m not sure about the inner workings of England’s team, but Michael Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher certainly were working on the same wavelength. It may well be that the relationship between Fletcher and Andrew Flintoff isn’t quite so attune.

Greg Chappell new Indian Coach

Beating off all his many rivals, Greg Chappell has been named the new Indian Coach. No doubt Jagadish will have something to say about this…I’m off for a few days :)

Mickey Arthur (WHO?) new South African coach

Mickey Arthur, made famous in recent days for being, erm, well, because no one knew who he was. And no one knows much more now, either. And he’s now head coach of the South African Cricket team! Hopefully we’ll learn more about him in the next few months, and why he is a better coach than old Ray Jennings.

I’m still not convinced South Africa are “back on track.” Any win, especially a series win, is a good win…but against the worst West Indian side in history (even worse than when England played them), and one of the worst International sides playing at the moment, it isn’t much to write home about.

South African Cricket didn’t take well to England beating them – and bear in mind, England were only playing to 60% of their potential and virtually without Stephen Harmison – as their record at home had been impenetrable, for years. And Ray “killer” Jennings really didn’t help matters, despite what he says today:

He said ahead of Arthur’s appointment: “I could write a chapter on how each player has sharpened up and I believe I’ve added value.

“I don’t want to be likeable, but losing. I have ruffled a few feathers.”

Ruffling (great word) a few feathers is fine, Ray – if you’re a pigeon. And does hitting your captain in the face (twice!) come under the category of “feather ruffling”? Come off it; you’re a poor coach, intimidatory man-manager and the best entertainment South African cricket’s had since Jonty Rhodes. Let’s reminisce!

“His [Ray Jennings] aggressive methods, which caused the injury to his captain Graeme Smith during the warm-up on this Test’s fourth morning, are controversial to say the least”

“If Smith’s injury had been an unlucky accident Jennings could be forgiven, but this is the second time in two months that a player has been concussed courtesy of Jennings’ warm-up bat. In Kanpur six weeks ago the unlucky man was Dippenaar. It is one thing having a hard nut as a coach, quite another having simply a nut.”

Mickey Mouse’s first series will be against the New Zealanders in October (good series, that, but let’s hope New Zealand can find a quickie, or re-awaken Shane Bond…)

Dean Jones applies to be Indian cricket coach

Dean Jones, after much speculation as to who might be interested, has formally applied for the position of coach of India. Tough bloke, Jones – could be a very interesting time for Indian cricket if he’s appointed

Tugga the coach?

BBC SPORT | Cricket | Waugh linked with SA coach’s job

Everyone’s queuing up to coach South Africa – Steve Waugh being the latest. It’d be his debut in coaching an international side, and is only just over a year since he hung up his baggy cap (seems longer doesn’t it?)