Exotic plants need the right environment to bloom in. And in Andy Flower, English cricket may have found that special element, to give the country"s game a new perspective. Seemingly passive, Andy Flower gets his point across in the most subtle but deadly effective manner. With his recent appointment to the post of Director of Cricket for England Andy Flower can now exercise his astute cricketing brain to the fullest.
Zimbabwean by birth, though technically he was born in South Africa, Cape town, he remains from Zimbabwe, the country that he was later made to flee due to the socio-economic and most importantly, appalling political conditions prevalent. Alongwith his teammate Henry Olonga, Flower revolted against the policies that were being propagated by the Government, headed by Robert Mugabe. During the 2003 World Cup, Olonga and Flower decided to take a stand and recorded this statement!
In all the circumstances, we have decided that we will each wear a black armband for the duration of the World Cup. In doing so we are mourning the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe. In doing so we are making a silent plea to those responsible to stop the abuse of human rights in Zimbabwe. In doing so, we pray that our small action may help to restore sanity and dignity to our Nation"
And so they wore black armbands to protest the death of democracy and needless to say, that was the end of two cricketing careers in Zimbabwe. Flower retired from international cricket and Henry Olonga left his home to adopt a new one. A brave and dauntless act without a doubt but tinged with a sense of disappointment, for Andy Flower was an institution for Zimbabwean Cricket and Henry Olonga a brilliant prospect for the team. Andy averaged over 50 in the eleven seasons that he played for Zimbabwe, a statistic, that he can be proud of! Not to forget his reassuring efforts behind the gloves and omnipresent voice of encouragement for the team, when they needed it.
Wicket-keeper batsmen are in themselves delightful to watch. They seem to have that added edged having observed and judged their own side"s bowlers from close and very concentrated quarters. And Andy was a fine example of wicket-keeper batsmen displaying all the positive attributes. Those of concentration, right shot selection and consistency.
That was Andy Flower the player! From 2002 to 2006 Flower continued to play cricket at the county level for Essex, and lived in England from the early part of 2003. But injury forced him to stop playing competitive cricket at any level, and the assistant coach job offer with the then England Coach Peter Moores was a welcome opening for him.
2007 marked the beginning of a new role for Andy Flower in the avataar" of coach. Well, not many would know that coaching is something that the Flowers have been associated with. His father Bill used to coach school boy cricket in Zimbabwe, and along with his younger brother Grant (also an international player) the Flowers ( father and two sons) were Zimbabwe Cricket Union"s first professional coaches. So, coaching in a way is something that comes naturally to this family.
Fast-forward to 2009 and the present day! The mantle of Coach of England or Director of Cricket now belongs to Andy Flower. This is the first time that he will be in charge completely. As is the trend these days, Flower just follows it as another international coach for a national side. Just how well he does as coach or director, will be seen in a matter of time. The discerning lot knows that even though his outward behaviour may suggest that he is perhaps the most gentlemanly person you would meet; his actions and words will show that he means business. He is a great advertisement for the game of cricket, as he fits the Gentleman" image to a T". For remember when the game was born, it was befittingly called The Game that the Gentlemen play!"