Ashes not behind Flower exit
Andy Flower's decision to stand down as England team director was not prompted by the 5-0 Ashes whitewash.
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England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke revealed that Flower opted to leave the role only after deciding the team director should be directly involved in all three formats.
Flower handed over the coaching duties of the limited-overs team to Ashley Giles 14 months ago but, after speaking with new ECB managing director Paul Downton in the past week, decided that was a situation that was no longer tenable as England plot a new era.
"This was Andy's decision," Clarke said at a press conference in Melbourne.
"Andy has been concerned that because there are players who go across formats, and of course the management team go across formats, it is extremely important to have the same culture in the England side in terms of preparation, management and the way they approach everything and the way they relate to each other.
"I think since December 2012, when we decided with Andy to split the roles, we've learnt quite a lot about what it is like to divide those roles and he felt it was now important to bring the roles back together and it was better that way.
"He felt going forward - in the new (captain Alastair) Cook era - that the three formats should be unified under one coach. That was his fundamental decision.
"Once that decision had been reached and he didn't want to be coach of all three, it was clear what his next decision would be."
Flower had earlier indicated a unified leadership team was needed for England to make "significant progress'' in his departure statement.
"In order for England cricket to make significant progress, I believe the team director - together with the respective captains - needs to be responsible across all formats...to positively influence the rebuilding process,'' Flower said.
"This will ensure complete clarity and continuity...and having stepped aside from the limited-overs squads 14 months ago, that is not something I am able to do.
"I do not therefore feel that starting the process would be in the best interests of all involved at what is a pivotal time for England cricket.''
Clarke did not put a timeframe on when a successor would be appointed, although England have time on their hands.
England's next Test match is not until the summer, when they host Sri Lanka, and until then Giles will continue in his role of the limited-overs coach for the tour of the Caribbean and then the World Twenty20.
"Paul Downton will take full charge of that (succession) process," Clarke said.
"We don't play any Test cricket until June so we have quite a break, so we'll be focusing on the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
"That process is pretty clear."
Giles would appear to be well placed to take over Flower's role after being ushered in as his understudy.
"He's a very strong candidate," Clarke said.
"Ashley is a very valued employee of the ECB, we all have the highest regard for him both as a man and as a coach.
"He is a man of great integrity and great capabilities. He played a lot of cricket for England and is very respected in the game."
Should Giles be overlooked, however, the decision to employ one man across all formats would almost certianly see him lose his job.
The likes of former South Africa and India coach Gary Kirsten have already been linked as possible candidates.
"Paul will conduct a proper process," Clarke said.
"There may well be other outstanding candidates that emerge. It will be a matter for Paul and those he chooses to advise him on that to decide who the right person is."
Clarke backed Cook to remain as skipper of the Test and ODI teams.
Cook had revealed some self doubts about his captaincy during the ODI series defeat in Australia, but will now meet Downton in the coming weeks to discuss the direction of the England team.
"I expect Alastair Cook to be captain of the team for the first Test next summer and in the ODIs at home," Clarke said.
During his five years in charge Flower led England to three Ashes series wins, the World Twenty20 and to the top of the rankings in all three formats.
Understandably, Clarke said the ECB had reluctantly accpeted the Zimbabwean's decision to step down but said there was no way of changing his mind.
"When Andy Flower makes his mind up to do something he's not the easiest to dissuade," he said.
"He and Paul had some very sensible and constructive conversations and as I say, the really good thing is he will be continuing with the ECB and we're really glad about that."
Flower, who for the time being will stay on in his role as a selector, is set to talk with Downton over the coming weeks about what position he is set to take up with the ECB.
Clarke suggested it would be a player development role at Loughborough.
"That will emerge. You will all be fully briefed once Paul and Andy have completed their discussions," he said.
"Clearly Andy has huge coaching abilities. He was the national batting coach and had his own extraordinary accomplishments playing Test cricket as a batsman and wicketkeeper.
"He's also a great identifier and developer of leadership in young men and I think that's something we all agree we need to develop more of at Loughborough and in the counties."
Andy Flower factfile:
1968: Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on April 28.
1992: February 23 - Makes his first one-day international appearance for Zimbabwe in the World Cup against Sri Lanka, making an unbeaten 115.
October 18 - Makes his Test debut for Zimbabwe against India in Harare, appearing in his country's first ever Test match.
1995: Appointed captain of Zimbabwe, leading his country to their first Test victory against Pakistan in Harare. Flower scored a century, whilst his younger brother Grant made a double.
2000: In his second stint as captain, Flower leads Zimbabwe on their first Test tour of England.
November - During a tour of India he smashes an unbeaten 232 in Nagpur, his career-best Test score.
2002: Named as one of Wisden's cricketers of the year.
May - Begins his career with Essex.
2003: February 10 - At the Cricket World Cup Flower and team-mate Henry Olonga appear in Zimbabwe's opening match against Namibia wearing black armbands in protest at Robert Mugabe's government and what the two describe as "the death of democracy".
March - Retires from international cricket following the controversy at the World Cup. Signs a three-year contract with South Australia, continuing to play for Essex during the Australian winter.
October 1 - The MCC makes Flower and Olonga honorary life members for their bravery at the World Cup.
2005: Younger brother Grant joins him at Essex, where they become the first brothers to score first-class centuries for the county in the same innings.
2007: May 7 - Named England assistant coach, replacing Matthew Maynard, subsequently ending his Essex career.
2009: Appointed interim team director for the West Indies tour following the departure of Peter Moores.
April 15 - Appointed England team director on a permanent basis.
August 23 - Guides England to 2-1 series win over Australia as they regain the Ashes.
September 20 - Only blight on an otherwise excellent summer comes with 6-1 one-day international thrashing by Australia.
2010: May 16 - England win their first ICC trophy by landing the World Twenty20 crown in the Caribbean. Paul Collingwood's side beat Australia in the final.
August 29 - England complete 3-1 win over Pakistan in four-Test series overshadowed by allegations of spot-fixing against the touring team.
November 26 - Undergoes successful surgery in Brisbane to remove melanoma on his right cheek.
December 29 - England retain Ashes after establishing a 2-1 lead against Australia with an innings and 157-run victory in Melbourne.
2011: January 7 - England win series 3-1 after another innings victory in Sydney.
March 26 - An England side seemingly suffering from burnout due to their hectic winter schedule exit the World Cup at the quarter-final stage, losing to co-hosts Sri Lanka.
May 3 - Renews his contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board.
August 11 - A 4-0 Test series victory over India sees England reach number one in the rankings of Test-playing nations.
December 22 - Named coach of the year in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
2012: July-August - In charge as South Africa claim a 3-0 Test series victory in England. Flower had omitted Kevin Pietersen from the squad after the batsman sent provocative text messages to opposition players.
2013: February-March - England draw a three-match Test series 0-0 with New Zealand. England do, however, win the subsequent one-day international and Twenty20 series.
July-August - Successfully leads England to a 3-0 Ashes series victory over Australia.
2014: January - England suffer a 5-0 whitewash defeat to Australia in the return Ashes series but Flower insists he will stay on as England team director.
January 8 - Describes media reports he has issued an ultimatum to the ECB over the future involvement of any individuals in the playing group or in the support staff as "totally inaccurate".
January 31: ECB confirm Flower has stepped down as England coach.