Cricket: Fleming in mix for England position

Stephen Fleming, left, has been tipped as a possible successor to Andy Flower on the back of his work in the IPL. Photo / Getty Images
Stephen Fleming, left, has been tipped as a possible successor to Andy Flower on the back of his work in the IPL. Photo / Getty Images

Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming has emerged as one of the candidates - according to British bookmakers - for the position of England cricket coach after the resignation of incumbent Andy Flower.

In the Daily Telegraph, cricket writer Nick Hoult wrote that the new coach "will lead England's quest to regain the Ashes at home in 2015 and mastermind the World Cup challenge in Australia [and New Zealand]." Fleming's one-day expertise could be a factor and Hoult added: "Candidates to replace Flower will include Gary Kirsten, who coached South Africa to the No1 spot in the world, beating England along the way, Stephen Fleming, the highly-rated former captain of New Zealand who has coached the Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, and Australians Tom Moody and Jason Gillespie."

The Independent's Stephen Brenkley was less positive about Fleming's chances: "There are few obvious candidates for the job from outside.

None of those mentioned in the bookmakers' odds have overwhelming credentials. Gary Kirsten, who has enjoyed huge success with both India and South Africa, resigned last year because he wanted to spend more time with his family. He is not the sort of chap to be lured thousands of miles from his home with the prospect of more world travel simply by a heap of money.

"Other names mentioned include another former South Africa coach, Graham Ford, who recently agreed to join Surrey after working with Sri Lanka. Ford was an early mentor of Kevin Pietersen, which may work in his favour but equally may not. Tom Moody, Dav Whatmore and Mickey Arthur formed a list of usual suspects and the appearance of the former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming in the bookies' shortlist seemed the wildest of left-field candidates since his coaching has been limited so far to the Indian Premier League."

Brenkley went on to write that, after their woeful tour of Australia, English cricket has been offered an opportunity for swift and deep reform after Flower's resignation. Flower gave an indication of what was required after deciding it was impossible for him to continue despite his insistence four weeks ago that he intended to stay. A brief period of reflection at home seems to have persuaded him that the 5-0 Ashes whitewash combined with the splitting of the coaching roles made his continuing impossible.

Flower said: "Following the recent very disappointing Ashes defeat it is clear to me that this is now time for England cricket, led by Alastair Cook, to rebuild with a new set of values and goals.

"The opportunity to start with a clean slate and begin to instil methods to ensure England cricket is moving in the right direction will be an incredibly exciting challenge for someone but I do not feel like I am in a position to undertake that challenge."

Although nothing can now be taken for granted, it still seems certain that Cook will remain as captain - though a new coach may have different ideas.

The easy option would be for new ECB boss Paul Downton, who does not start until Monday, to appoint Ashley Giles as Flower's successor. Giles has an early chance to impress in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next month but he has had almost as wretched a time of it in Australia as Flower, losing the ODI and Twenty20 series.

Their capitulation by eight wickets in the final T20 international on Friday night - with 5.1 of the 20 overs still left at Australia's disposal - was as embarrassing as anything they have suffered all summer.

There seems to have been some contradiction and mind-changing. Flower stepped away from the day-to-day running of all England's teams in late 2012, citing family reasons. Morris then heralded it as the way forward and was still clinging to that belief when he left office last month.

But Flower said yesterday: "In order for England cricket to make significant progress I believe that the team director, together with the respective captains, needs to be responsible across all formats in order to positively influence the re-building process."

His departure is embarrassing for the ECB. When Flower insisted, following the Ashes, that he wanted to be the architect of the rebuilding, the head honchos were behind him. After that, the tour of Australia went from disastrous to a joke.

- Herald on Sunday

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