Flower gets backing to become England coach

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/e/ecb.jpg' class='caption'> Former players Alistair Campbell and Kevin Curran urged the ECB not to overlook Andy Flower because of the African country's lowly standing in the sport.

Updated: January 12, 2009 16:53 IST
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Former Zimbabwe batsman Andy Flower has received backing from home to become the next England coach.

Alistair Campbell and Kevin Curran, a former captain and coach of Zimbabwe, urged the England and Wales Cricket Board not to overlook Flower because of the African country's lowly standing in the sport.

"In my opinion, no one can do the job better," Campbell said. "If he was an Australian or Englishman, exactly with the same credentials as his, there would be no question about him getting the job. Certainly, he would be the next England coach. But there is a lot of stigma surrounding Zimbabwe at the moment.

"Stats speak for themselves he was, in my opinion, the best player of spin of all time. If England wants a guy to take the team to another level, he is the man. There are other names that have been thrown around, but Andrew is well ahead because at his peak he was the best in the world playing for a team like us, and playing against the best in the world."

Flower is regarded as one of the best wicketkeeper-batsmen of all time. He has the most runs for Zimbabwe with 4,794 in 63 Tests, while his average of 51.54 is also the country's highest. Campbell, who led Zimbabwe from 1996-99 and played 60 Tests and 188 limited-over matches, said Flower's mental toughness could prove a key factor.

"The best thing about him is his mental strength," Campbell said.

"They say cricket is 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent ability. The mental strength he showed as a player will also come in handy as a coach. It will rub off on the team. The players need someone who can challenge and motivate them from a playing experience. This is exactly what the England team need, particularly going into the Ashes."

Peter Moores was fired as England coach and Kevin Pietersen stood down as captain after their rift became public last week. It has been reported that Pietersen also wanted Flower fired as England's assistant coach. Instead, new captain Andrew Strauss will be supported by Flower and team operations manager Phil Neale for the tour to the West Indies that begins January 21.

"I'm not well vested with the politics there, but as an assistant coach you need to be close to the head coach. I think that's where Kevin Pietersen has issues with Flower because he worked under Moores," Campbell said. "It's not about his credentials. Pietersen of all people cannot question Flower's ability.

"(Flower) stands up for what he believes is right. He is a good man manager but no pushover. He will butt heads with people but for the good of the team. He will try to bring the team together but it's not easy. It's never easy. There were times when he didn't tolerate people who didn't buy into his work ethic and mental strength. Now he is mature."

Curran, who coached Flower at many levels of cricket including the national team, said the Flower family had already been discriminated against by an English team.

"When I was captain of Northamptonshire in England and when we wanted an overseas player, I said to the committee that we needed to get one of the Flowers. They said they wanted an Australian. I said, 'Look, these guys will give you 100 per cent,"' Curran said.

"Just because we come from a small Test nation, people do not look at us in the same light as Australians or South Africans, which is a shame became we have produced many world-class coaches and players from this country.

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