"13", "name" => "Cricket", "category" => "England Cricket", "path" => "/var/www/vhosts/betting.betfair.com/httpdocs/cricket/", "url" => "https://betting.betfair.com/cricket/", "title" => "Cricket Betting: Strauss picks up the pieces in Windies : England Cricket : Cricket", "desc" => "After the controversy of recent weeks, England's tour to the West Indies is as tough as they come. So is Andy Flower the Gerald Ford of English cricket? Ralph Ellis draws another parallel....", "keywords" => "", "robots" => "index,follow" ); $category_sid = "sid=4615"; ?>

Cricket Betting: Strauss picks up the pieces in Windies

England Cricket RSS / / 22 January 2009 /

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After the controversy of recent weeks, England's tour to the West Indies is as tough as they come. So is Andy Flower the Gerald Ford of English cricket? Ralph Ellis draws another parallel.

England arrived in the West Indies this morning led by cricket's equivalent of Foinavon. The new head coach Andy Flower has come to power in much the same way as the 100-1 racehorse (or should that be carthorse) who was so far behind the rest of the Grand National field in 1967 that he simply swerved past the mass of horses that fell at one fence and trundled on to victory.

With Peter Moores gone as a victim of some of the most bizarre politics produced even by the blazers at the ECB, and Kevin Pietersen demoted from skipper to batsman, this trip to the Caribbean is as tough as they come. The players and management can spout all the nonsense they like about how everybody still gets on. It's pretty obvious that inside the dressing room some will have sided with their former captain, some with their ex-coach, and others will have wanted both their heads knocked together. Now former Zimbabwe Test star Flower - together with captain Andrew Strauss - is the bloke left with the job of picking up the pieces of all that internal strife.

Just to add to the conundrum he would also have been joining the other two million on the dole queue if Pietersen had got his way over the future plans for England cricket. And he knows it.

"I've had a chat with Kevin and I think it is the case that he wanted Peter and I both to go," he told this morning's papers before stepping on the plane. "From what I understand he did want a regime change."

Flower is not officially England's head coach
for the tour, he's still got the title of assistant - it's just that there's not anybody above him to assist. The idea is for him to spend ten weeks in the role to see how he gets on - whether he then wants to stay in charge as well as whether the ECB still want him.

"I'm not sure yet if I want the job," he admits. "I want to play it by ear a little and see how the next month goes. I don't know when they are advertising the job and when they want applications in, but I'd rather see how it goes first. I new coach could come in and want his own team, but I'd like to stay involved."

So here comes another crisis in six weeks time. If things don't go well in the West Indies Flower will still want to work for the next head coach. If they do there's no guarantee he'll want or will get the job anyway. So instead of a tour that should bind everybody together before the Ashes series we're going to be starting all over again when the summer comes.

England are [1.65] to win the Test series in the Caribbean but with so much turmoil that's ridiculously short. The Stanford series showed that there is new raw talent being produced by the West Indies and you can't approach that with preparation that's less than spot on. I'd certainly lay England at [2.3] for the first Test before they've settled down.

As for the Ashes, Australia are currently trading at around even money and sadly it's not hard to see why.

Five things you might not know about Andy Flower

1. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, his family moved back to Harare in Zimbabwe where he and brother Grant both went to St George's College


2. A wicket keeper and batsman, he played in Zimbabwe's first official Test in 1992 against India


3. In 63 Tests he scored 4,794 runs at an average of more than 50


4. He and Henry Olonga wore black arm bands during the 2003 World Cup to protest against Robert Mugabe's regime


5. His appointment as England's batting coach meant he retired from playing with Essex having scored 49 first class centuries. He has talked about appearing for MCC to try to get the fiftieth.

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