With England taking the field at Edgbaston later today as the number one Test side it would be conveniently easy to forget that it hasn't always been milk and honey for the team's loyal supporters.
The 1990's were the decas annus horribilis of English cricket. From being crushed in every Ashes series to a host of horrific batting collapses and a haphazard selection policy, the last decade of the twentieth century was not a good time to be an England cricket fan.
The last year of the millenium when England were knocked out of their own World Cup a day before the official song was released and a Test series was lost at home to a poor New Zealand side to slip to the bottom of the rankings - below even Zimbabwe - thankfully proved to be the nadir.
The Plan by Telegraph scribe and former Glamorgan and England opener Steve James describes how English cricket rose from the canvas and describes the pivotal roles that the two Zimbabweans Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower played in the renaissance.
James writes from a unique perspective. As the former batting partner of ECB managing director Hugh Morris, a player under Fletcher at Glamorgan and Flower's closest confidant in the press corps, James is able to both relate and analyse the reasons behind the rise.
He is also a very good and engaging writer; as we perhaps should expect from a contemporary and fellow Cambridge blue of that doyen of cricket scribes Mike Atherton.
As such The Plan is a hugely enjoyable and engrossing read and comes highly recommended. It is the perfect book to teach an alien (or an American) about how English cricket rose to the force it is today demolishing India at home and winning two successive Ashes series. The latter would have been unthinkable before Fletcher took the reins of a demoralised side in 1999.
At the end of the book, James ponders who is the best coach between of the two. We won't spoil your enjoyment by revealing here the conclusion James reaches. If you want to find out who gets the vote you’ll have to buy the book.
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