Flower admitted that Strauss’ England side was one of the best he had ever coached
England coach Andy Flower has announced that he is sad to see Andrew Strauss retire from international cricket, but will cherish the time he spent with the former Test captain.
Flower also reckons that Strauss should be labelled as one of the best captains England ever had.
Talking about Strauss’ retirement for the first time, Flower stated that he enjoyed the three-and-a-half years he spent working alongside Strauss, and was pleased to be a part of England’s back-to-back Ashes victories over arch-rivals Australia in 2009 and 2010-2011, as well as witness the country’s climb up the Test team rankings to hold on to the top spot for about a year.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports, Flower said: “He’s a great man, very simply he’s a great bloke, a very strong man with a good sense of what is happening around him and an understanding and empathy of other people which is a great quality. He was a kind person and often saw things from other people’s perspective which is important in a leader and earned him a lot of close friendships in the changing room. He should be remembered as one of the great England captains. He has made other people better players and helped them grow as people, he has brought people together and people have been keen to follow him.”
Even though Flower and Strauss didn’t always see eye to eye, the England coach admitted that he and Strauss made a great team.
“We didn’t agree all the time, absolutely, but usually we’d be sensible enough to negotiate a position. In the main it’s been a very successful partnership and one I’ll treasure,” Flower added.
Flower stated that Strauss’ decision to retire had not surprised him, but admitted that the topic had caught him off guard a bit when Strauss brought it up a few weeks ago.
Even after watching Strauss have a rather dismal series against South Africa, which saw England lose their number one Test team ranking to the Proteas, Flower noted that he still would have backed Strauss had he decided to continue on with his career.
During his retirement speech, Strauss made it clear that retirement had been on his mind for a while, and he had even considered calling it a day before the start of the South Africa series.
“When he first brought it up a few weeks ago we talked about why he might be feeling the way he was and I asked a number of question to see how he might few the future, to check on his motivation and hunger to do the job, you need an incredible amount of motivation to throw yourself into this and make it work. When he came back I could see he’d made up his mind and was comfortable with it. I definitely didn’t see any lack of motivation. I’m surprised he said he’s been thinking about it for that long. But he’s 35 years old and is very aware of himself. That’s been one of his great strengths, understanding how he scores runs and as a leader understanding how he interacts with others. He has decided the time is right and he’s a pretty accurate judge of most things,” Flower said.
Flower stated that he saw the hectic season starting to take a toll on Strauss, and the Kevin Pietersen saga did nothing to help with his confidence either.
“I could see he was battling with himself but he’s a strong bloke and never made a big show of any feelings of doubt. Of course I was slightly concerned but I thought he could battle through. I don’t think there was ever a case of him being carried in any way. He always contributed in some way or other. I do know that in moving on he can feel immense pride in his contribution to English cricket and to the lives of the people he played with,” Flower added.
With Strauss gone, Flower explained that he had already started to focus on cementing a future partnership with new Test captain Alastair Cook.
“I will miss his friendship but we need to move on, Alastair Cook is taking over. I know him pretty well from his early days at Essex and we need to forge a strong partnership. I’m definitely looking forward to it. Alastair is a good young man. He’s done a lot of growing up and he’s a mature young man. He is without doubt a strong enough man to take on the challenge,” Flower said.