Cricket Expert & Columnist
'Andy Flower's successor must not be appointed with undue haste'
Ashley Giles must start as favourite but ECB must take their time...
Last Updated: 31/01/14 7:02pm
Flower insisted that he wanted to stay on in the job in the wake of England's humiliating 5-0 Ashes defeat but reports suggest that ECB Managing Director Paul Downton has decided to move the Zimbabwean into a new role.
Former Test captain Atherton told Sky Sports News that he isn't surprised by the reports given the scale of England's defeat - and their subsequent maulings in the ODI and T20 series, which they currently trail 2-0 with one to play.
But he said that England must take their time to find a replacement to avoid replicating the short-lived tenure of Moores, who was sacked on the same day as Kevin Pietersen quit as Test captain in 2009 following a breakdown in their relationship.
"Ashley Giles must start as favourite just because he's been in and around the system and he's the one-day coach," said Atherton.
"I personally would caution them not to rush in but take their time and have a look around; there are plenty of other candidates about, no doubt.
"I think the ECB made the mistake with Peter Moores some years back when they rushed in with what they perceived to be a ready-made replacement and it proved to be a wrong call.
"So I think with these things it is always best to take a look around and see who are the best candidates for the job. It's probably one of the most lucrative and highly-sought after jobs in cricket, so there are going to be plenty of good candidates putting their names forward."
According to Sky sources, Flower is moving on from his role after meeting Downton to hold a review into this winter's tour of Australia which has produced a string of dire results.
Given the embarrassing manner of England's attempted Ashes defence, Atherton felt the odds of Flower staying on were stacked against him.
"I'm not entirely surprised - it has been a pretty disastrous Ashes tour with just one win in the international games throughout," he said.
"Things have gone badly wrong and the coach is responsible for that in many ways. Even though Andy Flower has not been involved with the one-day games he has always said that he still holds ultimate responsibility for the results of the team.
"I think he felt that he was put in an invidious position at the end of the tour with the stories about the ultimatum between him and Kevin Pietersen, which weren't true actually.
"It's unclear whether he has been sacked or if he's been asked to move to Loughborough - I understand that he has definitely taken up a role there. But that's irrelevant, really - it means that there will be a new man in charge pretty soon.
"I don't know whether Andy asked to be moved or whether this is a decision made by Paul Downton. The meetings happened at Lord's on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
"If Paul Downton made the decision then it's an early big call. He's been conducting an internal review of the tour over the last few weeks but I'm not clear if this is Paul Downton sacking Flower.
"Ashes humiliations rarely end well so in that sense there is perhaps an inevitability about it. The last time they were whitewashed in Australia in 2007 it cost Duncan Fletcher his job."
He added: "Everyone has talked about the fact that there will be a new era come the one-day games in the West Indies and the World Twenty20s coming up in Bangladesh and then the series against Sri Lanka and India in the summer.
"So there will be a lot of new faces around - not just a new coach but backroom staff as well, as well as new players."
Flower was appointed England team director on a permanent basis in April 2009 and went on to enjoy immense success, particularly against Australia.
Paying tribute, Atherton said: "He has been an outstanding coach of the England team - probably the best that the England team have ever had. They've won three Ashes series under his tenure and they won the World Twenty20 - England's first victory in an ICC global tournament.
"He took the team to No 1 in all forms of the game but most memorably in Test cricket when they beat India 4-0 in 2011.
"His credentials have been outstanding as a coach. It has ended on a sour note as these things invariably do when captains and coaches go. It's not usually because they've chosen a glorious moment to go."