We’ve always admired Andy Flower at the Reverse Sweep. Anyone that averages 51.54 in 63 Tests is obviously a quality batsman. To achieve it whilst mostly keeping wicket and even more so when playing for a Zimbabwean side that was regularly on the receiving end of heavy defeat makes it a staggering feat.
The best example of Flower’s status as a great batsman came in 2001 when he scored 142 (out of 286) and 199 not out (out of 391) against South Africa – Zimbabwe lost by nine wickets but Flower still reigned supreme and at one time was ranked number one in the ICC ratings.
Flower’s brilliance as a batsman was matched by his actions as a human being when together with Henry Olonga he chose to wear a black armband during the 2003 World Cup to mark the ‘death of democracy’ in Zimbabwe.
That courageous action prompted the end of his international career, but after sterling service to Essex, Flower was elevated to the England coaching set-up by then Head Coach Peter Moores.
Since taking the head role from the deposed Moores at the start of 2009, Flower has earned the gratitude of every England supporter for comprehensively winning the international cricket equivalent of snakes and ladders.
There has been the odd snake – Jamaica 2009 (in his first Test at the helm), Headingley 2009 and Johannesburg 2010, but other than that Flower has steered England to climb pretty much every ladder that has come their way.
Other than that initial foray against West Indies, England are unbeaten in seven series since (six wins, one draw), including of course Ashes wins home and away.
Flower’s stamp on England’s limited overs team is arguably even more remarkable. In T20, the team that lost to the Netherlands in the World T20 in England, became champions one year later in the Caribbean.
Whilst in ODI, the improvement since losing 6-1 at home to Australia in 2009 has been incredible with five straight series victories since. As such, hopes are high for the forthcoming World Cup. If Flower leads England to the crown there and takes them to number one in the ICC Test rankings they should make him Prime Minister.
And if all this wasn’t enough reason to make Flower a Reverse Sweep hero, the fact that he stays out of the limelight and doesn’t try to take credit for the team’s success – are you reading this John Buchanan? – seals the deal.
Andy Flower – a great cricketer, a decent bloke, a brilliant coach and a Reverse Sweep hero.
Check out all our Reverse Sweep heroes and zeroes including amongst others VVS Laxman, James Anderson, Graeme Swann and John Buchanan
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