Andy Flower is an outstanding cricket coach. Well-organized, tough, uncompromising, but flexible and sensitive when he feels he needs to be. The latter quality is underplayed but it was evident in the way he spoke about Samit Patel.
It was obvious that England wanted to pick Patel for the World Cup. As Flower said, 'all we were saying was 'get into reasonable shape'. It didn't have to be perfect. In fact, all we wanted to see was an improvement...'.
The fact that Patel will be at home in Nottingham when the World Cup starts, is, therefore, nobody's fault but his own.
I've written about Patel and his fitness issues before here, but I'm less sympathetic now. It's clear that the management were prepared to cut him a small amount of slack but he simply didn't want to do the work.
But, as The Old Batsman says, the inability, or unwillingness, of certain players to conform can be symptomatic of a less tangible fear of exposure at the highest level of the game. In the days when the England team was rubbish and county cricket was a cuddly oasis of mediocrity, the county game was full of players like that. Times have changed now, and Patel, for sure, knows it.
Flower also knows stuff. Like the fact that when you're doing his job you have tricky, sometimes ruthless, calls to make. The decision to replace Davies with Prior was one such, and, while it didn't look too bad when it was made, it's not looking quite so sound now.
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