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Apr 16, 2009

Flower to oversee England's Ashes assault

Andy Flower was on Wednesday named as the new England team director by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The 40-year-old former Zimbabwe and Essex batsman was unveiled as the man to lead England's bid to win The Ashes at a press conference at Lord's.

He was the overwhelming favourite to be given the job after stepping in as caretaker when Peter Moores was sacked in January.

Flower, who acted as Moores's assistant in 2007, takes over the top job in English cricket after overseeing the recent tour of the West Indies.

Crucially he had the support of players like England skipper Andrew Strauss and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who were impressed by his man-management in the Caribbean.

Under his management England were defeated in the Test series before securing a 3-2 victory in the one-day series.

His first fixture on a hectic summer schedule comes on May 6 and the start of the West Indies return tour, followed by the Twenty20 World Cup and The Ashes against Australia.

Speaking at Lord's, Flower conceded he had been reluctant to put his name forward before changing his mind in the Caribbean.

"When I went on that West Indian tour I didn't know whether I wanted to apply for this job or not," he told the press conference.

"Halfway through I had made up my mind that I did.

"I'm very honoured to be given the position. I believe the last three months will stand me in good stead.

"I was interim coach for that tour, now that I'm in charge, so to speak, things change, definitely."

Flower admitted there were difficult decisions ahead and asked about a possible return to the Test arena for former England captain Michael Vaughan, Flower said: "That is one of the topics that will be discussed."

Flower also backed former captain Kevin Pietersen, whose fall-out with Moores ended with Pietersen losing the captaincy and Moores leaving his post.

Flower added on Pietersen: "He's very important to English cricket. He's a very fine player. Kevin and I have always got on pretty well and that hasn't changed."

Hugh Morris, managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, revealed there had been 30 applicants for the role.

Morris said: "We had a great deal of interest. We were very happy with the level of candidates and the standard of candidates who applied for the job.

"We believe Andy has the potential to become a first-class coach."

Morris also revealed Flower's attributes which had helped him land the job.

He said: "Honesty, integrity. I think he has a clear vision of where he wants to take the England cricket team in years to come.

"He has got a strong reputation in the game.

"Andy did a terrific job in the West Indies. We see Andy as a person to take England forward. He is a young man who has impressed in the West Indies."

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