Coach Flower ready to prove a crucial asset

Andy FLOWER fits none of the easy caricatures of the modern coach.

With each progressive step achieved by his England team, the temptation increases for those who need to pigeon-hole their success stories.

However England fare in Australia over the next three months, it seems the high-profile nature of this winter assignment means Flower will just have to be wedged somehow into one of the tried-and-trusted templates.

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It will probably be an arbitrary over-reaction to any one of his character traits or skills which decides whether the former Zimbabwe captain is to become an arch disciplinarian, mastermind tactician or something less complimentary in the coming months.

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The truth, of course, will be far removed from the popular portrait. On the evidence so far it is an impressive force which is at work behind England's successes since the start of last year.

That was when Flower agreed to take charge, with Andrew Strauss as captain, of a team whose two previous incumbents – Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen – proved incapable of establishing a working relationship.

The first consequence was a Test series defeat in the West Indies.

From that point, though, the victories have far outnumbered the setbacks and England travelled Down Under at the end of last month with confidence building for their mission to return with the Ashes for the first time in a quarter-of-a-century.

Whatever the outcome, Flower will surely be a measured asset throughout. "We're always hungry to drive ourselves further and better," he said, as England were completing their run of unbroken series successes last summer. "I think the guys are feeling confident as a team. They have the belief we can do well in the Ashes."

In the same breath, and characteristically, Flower articulates and acknowledges the other side of the equation.

"We understand how tough it is going to be. We understand how good they are in their own back yard. We have no illusions about that. But there is also a feeling of belief within our squad.

"Our guys are ready for a fight as well as Australia, but we know Australia in Australia is a very difficult prospect.

"We understand the challenge ahead of us. But I know our guys are excited by that challenge – and that's a good place to be."