Team director Andy Flower reassured England he would not be following Hugh Morris out of the door – at least for the time being.
Just over 12 hours after England closed out their third consecutive Ashes victory, one of the men who has overseen that period of success – the ECB’s managing director of cricket, Morris – announced he was leaving the role to become chief executive of his old county Glamorgan.
His has been a triumphant tenure, beginning in the aftermath of a 5-0 series whitewash Down Under and ending with England having the whip hand over Australia once again, sealing a 3-0 win this summer. He will surely be missed behind the scenes, but if reports at the weekend that Flower may also depart after the return series in Australia this winter prove to be true, the effect would be huge.
The Zimbabwean, appointed by Morris in 2009, is an inscrutable character at times and his response to questions over his future might easily be read either way. He stopped well short of pledging himself to the role long-term, but gave no obvious hint that an exit is imminent.
Asked if there was anything to reveal about his position, Flower said: “No, there is not. I don’t like to look too far ahead with regards to my own personal situation. We have an away Ashes coming up and I’m reflecting on a job well done in this series by the players, who should feel very satisfied and very proud.
“There’s always another exciting challenge around the corner and in this instance it is the Ashes away.”
Flower handed over the reins of the limited-overs team to Ashley Giles at the start of the year, a move designed to give him more time at home and less on the exhausting international treadmill. Should he choose to move even further away from that side of the game and closer to administration then Morris’ job may yet prove an attractive one. Again, though, he was in no mood to shed light on his intentions.
“I’m a cricket coach, that’s what I’m doing at the moment,” Flower said. “Hugh has worked with the ECB for 16 years and has been very much part of some of the successes England have had. He will be sorely missed by the playing group, certainly by me, and his post will need to be filled by a man of equal calibre.”
Amid all the talk of Morris’ departure and Flower’s future, it was almost possible to overlook the contentious end to the Ashes at the Kia Oval.
England needed just 21 runs in 24 balls when the umpires ordered the teams off for bad light, following established protocol but ruining what could have been a stunning sporting spectacle.
ECB chairman Giles Clarke said on Sunday he would be lobbying for a rule change regarding light – effectively putting the decision back in the hands of the batting side – and Flower feels just as strongly on the subject. “Where I think the ICC (International Cricket Council) could improve the regulations – and we have spoken with their officials about this for years – is the description that they use when judging bad light,” he said.
“They say they consider if it is dangerous or not. It is often not dangerous: it’s a poor description of that particular regulation.
“It my opinion it is whether the battle between bat and ball is reasonable and fair. If there are spinners bowling under the regulations at the moment it is almost possible to play until it is dark because it is obviously not dangerous. They do need to change the regulations. Cricket will be better for it.”
England’s indignation over a decision that denied them the chance to press for their first ever 4-0 Ashes win on home soil is shared even higher up the political food chain.
Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson, who was among the disappointed fans at the ground, lambasted the decision to deny the game a natural conclusion. “I was at the Oval yesterday and the scenes at the end were farcical. With only four overs remaining in the flagship cricket series in front of a packed house, common sense should have prevailed,” he said. “I support the ECB’s move in making strong representation to the ICC to get the rules changed.”