With the Ashes tantalisingly close to starting, cricket fans will be overjoyed with the reports on the progress of the England team.
The boys are in a good, quietly confident, place, while the Aussies’ preparation seems to be closer to that traditionally expected of the “can’t bowl, can’t bat, and can’t field” English.
How you unite a team and create a winning spirit is too big a topic to debate in this blog post, but some useful lessons can be learnt from the England coaching/captain axis of Flower and Strauss.
The England team has confidence in its leadership. And it seems to be a mutual respect. Flower and Strauss have selected a group of players with the necessary ability and character to excel in the test cricket cauldron. The management team has set out what it expects the players to achieve, provided them with a clear strategy and all the necessary support, as well as some innovative tactics to get them there (e.g. a batting net with white noise blaring, a temperature set at 30 degrees and the need to run the length of the net and back in between balls).
In short, the England management has delivered everything the team needs to succeed, prepared them for every eventuality and then given the players individual responsibility to hit their ashes winning target.
The result is a relaxed atmosphere that reflects well on the management and a confidence about the side that has all but silenced the notoriously barbarous Australian press.
The mood of the England camp is brilliantly captured in Graham Swann’s excellent video diaries.
In it you can even see the England team’s take on the ‘Sprinkler’ dance move from the 80s. England fans will be hoping that the Flower/Strauss management team will be able to sprinkle a little star dust of its own so that the team can replicate some of the Ashes winning action, as well as carve out some of the dance floor shapes from that era.