Andy Flower and Ashley Giles are about to form a partnership they hope will work for the good of English cricket for the foreseeable future. Flower has spent the past four years in sole charge, with increasing levels of responsibility, of England in all three international formats.
An announcement was made yesterday, however, that the team director has delegated management of one-day international and Twenty20 squads to his fellow selector Giles.
The intention is that, once Giles takes over his new role for a five-match series starting in India in January, Flower will instead be able to concentrate his time largely on the Test team.
The 44-year-old, who has helped England to Ashes success home and away as well as a World Twenty20 title and to the top of the global Test rankings for a time in his tenure to date, will continue to be responsible – above Giles – for team strategy in all formats. But he will no longer travel with the limited-overs teams.
It is a new policy which both men, and their England and Wales Cricket Board employers, believe will ensure they do not spread themselves too thinly professionally or personally.
Flower said: “We are looking forward to working together and making this work. This will allow both Ashley and myself a work-life balance, and that will be very helpful. We believe we can make it work and that it will make us a stronger organisation.”
A hectic international schedule is the core reason for the decision to lighten Flower’s workload, and promote Giles.
“Our international schedule is heavy, and we have discussed at length the rotation of players,” said Flower, who has had few breaks since he first took charge of the team in January 2009. “Here we have looked at our coaching staff. I think the work-life balance for some of our younger coaches is very important. This is, in our opinion, the best use of our resources at the moment.
“It will allow me to think and strategise for the upcoming Test series, and the other way round. When we are playing Tests Ashley will have time to prepare properly for the limited-overs series. Ashley is a real student of the game and I think, through his personality, he can influence the players in a positive way.”
Giles is convinced it will be a harmonious arrangement. “Andy and I haven’t got huge egos,” he said. “It is about the team moving forwards.”
Giles duly echoed Flower’s rationale about the need to keep all staff fresh on and off the field. “We’ve been resting and rotating some of the players and having different captains in different forms of the game – that has happened for a while now,” he said.
“The next step is the coaches. We’ve got to look after the good people. Andy Flower has done a fantastic job, and we hope this restructuring will help.”
England’s policy shift – the two limited-overs squads they announced yesterday demonstrated an increasing readiness to save players from a damaging workload too – is hardly surprising, given the nature of modern international cricket. It seems, though, that the decision was made only recently.
“It is about three weeks since we first discussed it,” added Giles. “I talked with [ECB managing director] Hugh Morris and Andy about roles and responsibilities and ironing out some of the problems. Ultimately, I report to Andy as team director. But clearly it is important that we work together on a strategy for the two teams.
“I can call upon Andy for advice. I’m sure that if push comes to shove then Andy would have the final say, and that’s fine with me.”