From hero to zero

HARARE - After the disastrous 5-0 thrashing England received in the recently concluded Ashes series down under, speculation was rife as to who would be given their marching orders.

Andy Flower, or the highly controversial but multi-talented batsman Kevin Pietersen.

These speculations were seemingly laid to rest when the ECB announced that they had extended Flower's contract up to 2015 and they also went on to say that he would not be held accountable for the performance of the team.

The ECB made it clear that Flower had been responsible for the team's turn around, and that he now had to be with the team and nurture it into a new era.

But then rumblings started to emerge that Flower would have been opposed to the idea of coaching a team that Pietersen was part of.

Flower had remained tight lipped when approached, and there were hopes that the two strong willed characters would possibly be able to reach some sort of ceasefire for the sake of the team.

So it came as a relative shock when the news broke last Friday that Flower was no longer the team director/head coach of England.

Once again, rumours were rife.

Some quarters of the media suggested that Flower had been sacked, while others, including the ECB stated that Flower had voluntarily stepped down.

A quick glance through Flower's press release very nearly convinced us that the former Zimbabwean captain had indeed decided to make way for someone with fresh ideas, but, the truth will always be reviewed and 24 hours later, it was confirmed that he had been asked to step down.

Flower, who represented Zimbabwe in 63 Tests and 213 One Day Internationals, immediately made an impression when he graduated from assistant coach to head coach from Peter Moore in 2009.

The former number one ranked Test batsman achieved a number of significant results, one of which was to win the Ashes no less than three times, in 2009, and 2013 at home, and then proved himself again by helping his team win the Ashes in Australia in 2010, a feat that was previously achieved in 1987.

In 2011, England went to the top of the Test rankings for the first time, but not before they proved themselves at the shortest level of the game when they won the T20 World Cup in the West Indies in 2010.

Flower's romantic affair with the Sub Continent, and in particular India continued off the pitch when he coached England to a series win over India in 2012, breaking a 27-year drought in the process.

So, what is the real reason behind the ECB's decision to politely ask such a successful coach to step down?

Was it really because they felt that they needed a new coach with new ideas? Or has Kevin Pietersen once again got his way and influenced his masters to sack the world's best coach?

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