Cricket Expert & Columnist
Bob Willis: England need Andy Flower in charge of Test team
England need Andy Flower more than ever, says Bob Willis, who hopes the team director doesn't step down.
Last Updated: 18/12/13 2:38pm
In the wake of the tourists' crushing third Test defeat in Perth, which saw Australia regain the Ashes by moving into an unassailable 3-0 series lead, Flower refused to confirm he will remain in charge of England beyond this current tour.
Instead the Zimbabwean, who has overseen a remarkable period of success for the national team since taking charge in 2009, insisted his focus remained firmly on the remaining two Tests in the 2013/14 Ashes series.
Flower's reluctance to announce his long-term commitment to England has led to speculation he could be preparing to stand down from his role.
However, Sky Sports pundit Willis is hopeful that is not the case.
"He'll be a huge loss if he does decide to pack up and I hope he doesn't," the former fast bowler told The Verdict.
"England need him more than ever at the moment.
"There's been speculation about Flower's future ever since he stepped down from the one-day duties and Ashley Giles took over last year.
"The watersheds always used to be World Cups but Andy has opted out of one day cricket because of the pressure on his family life so it's more difficult to say there is a natural time for him to throw the towel in.
"But I think he'll stay and I hope he does."
Former England opener Marcus Trescothick, though, is less convinced.
The Somerset captain says, on hearing Flower's interview with Sky Sports following the conclusion of the third Test, he sensed the England chief could be on his way - and reckons Giles is in an ideal position to step up from his one-day role to take on five-day duties too.
"To me, looking at those interviews, it doesn't look like he'll be there in the summer and I'd be surprised if he is," he said.
"He would be a loss because he's been very good but when I watched that live it seemed quite clear.
"If he does go, there will be another progression on and the next guy in will do a good job, if they select the right guy - and obviously that's the important part.
"Ashley Giles is probably the one tipped. He'd be a good coach and he's done well progressing up through the one day team but it's always a challenge taking on the lead role. It's completely different than doing it at a county team."
Jason Gillespie, however, who is currently first team coach at Yorkshire, suspects too much is being read into Flower's post-match interview and in fact the team director is right to maintain focus on the short-term objectives of inspiring his side to a successful response in Melbourne and Sydney.
Unless family reasons force Flower to step down, former Australia quick Gillespie expects him to still be at the helm next summer.
"I think we're looking too much into his answers; I thought he answered the questions quite well and quite honestly as well," said Gillespie.
"He's so focused on making sure England don't look too far ahead and focus on the next two matches; 'this series is what is in front of us, let's make sure we get that right'.
"[Will he be there in the summer?] Why not? The only thing that would change Andy Flower's mind, taking into account the position he's in now, where he's given up the one day stuff, is the pressure on family life.
"If he feels that's compromised, as a big family man, he might just decide to pull back."