With England’s recently victory over Australia and thus the taking back of the Ashes, I have decided to look at the coach behind their success and one of Zimbabwe’s best and most loved cricketers.
Andrew or “Andy” Flower was actually born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1968, but his family returned to their native Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) when he was 10 years old. It was obvious to his father Bill even at such a young age that he would excel at sports and he spent a lot of time coaching and playing with Andy in their garden, which even to this day Andy attributes the time his father spent with him as largely responsible for his excellent technique. With this solid cricketing background, it wasn’t long before he was playing cricket for his school and then for his local sports club, Old Georgians, at the age of 15.
Andy’s first-class debut was at the age of 18, playing for the ZCU (Zimbabwe Cricket Union) President’s XI against a very strong Young West Indian touring team. It was to be a rather quiet debut but showing great determination for a slow 13, as he resisted traditional West Indian pace from the likes of Eldine Baptiste.
His first century in international one-day cricket came on his official debut against Sri Lanka in the first World Cup match of 1992, a feat which has only been repeated by three other players in history. On this day he opened and managed to bat right through the innings for a magnificent unbeaten 115 and although earning him the Man of the Match award, it sadly did not bring victory for his Zimbabwean team.
People were now taking notice and from the beginning of 2000 for around two years he went through a purple patch and was to become the best player in Zimbabwe’s history and for a time held the rankings as the best batsman in the world and to this day his batting record as a wicketkeeper is unmatched.
Andy announced his retirement from international cricket where he started it, at the World Cup. It was during the 2003 World Cup in a game held in Zimbabwe, he along with a team mate Henry Olonga protested against what they called the “death of democracy” in Zimbabwe which eventually led to both players having to flee Zimbabwe under the cover of darkness for fear of retribution.
Andy Flower then spent a few seasons playing for the English county of Essex with considerable success taking his team to the South Group Twenty20 Semi-finals and Winners Div 1 C&G Trophy and was named as Player of the season. At the age of 38 and the start of the 2007 season he was offered the position as England’s assistant coach which he took a position.
In January 2009 came the removal of Peter Moores as England’s coach 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 has confronted many challenges in his career, but coaching England will surely rival any of them.
Batting and fielding averages