The Plan: How Fletcher and Flower Transformed English Cricket Hardcover – 24 May 2012
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"The most insightful cricket book of the year" (Paul Newman Daily Mail)
"Excellent" (Mike Atherton The Times)
"An excellent book and courageous in the way it revisits and interrogates the opinions of the moment, including the author's own, in light of subsequent developments. As well as knowledge there is a rare warmth and sympathy to his portraits of men who are probably easier to respect than truly to know. The Plan is rich in unfamiliar detail and even the sideways glances are penetrating. The cricket points are well made, the personal judgements astute. Like his subjects James has made a good plan and stuck to it" (Gideon Haigh The Cricketer)
"Fine detail... a persuasive account of the renaissance of English cricket, and no one is better qualified to tell it. [Steve James] has become a member of an influential new British school of cricket writing" (The Economist)
"James' quiet excellence, uncomplicated style and informed perspective make his Sunday column a "don't miss". The Plan is more of the same... Compelling" (Sam Collins Cricinfo)
The inside story of the England cricket team's quest to become the number one Test nation in the worldSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The book starts from the low point of English cricket - a series defeat by New Zealand in the late 1990s - that saw England plummet to the bottom of the rankings system - not including Bangladesh or Zimbabwe. It then charts the gradual development of the team as it slowly improved via the astute coaching of first Duncan Fletcher and then Andy Flower - a couple who share the distinction of being proud Zimbabweans. Given that James also wrote Fletcher's autobiography he has a plethora of good quotes direct from the horse's mouth, as it were. He also interviewed many of the integral people behind the rise of English cricket - Hugh Morris, Ashley Giles and Peter Moores, for example, to give the book a balanced feel.
What emerges is a respect for the hard work that the coaches and players put in. They really did have a long-term plan for the growth of English cricket and it was interesting seeing the layers of success added one by one. Fletcher, despite the damaging final year of his regime, really was the catalyst, alongside Nasser Hussain, for the turn-around in fortunes, with his subtle man-management and tactical brain the missing key. It was fascinating seeing how the `critical mass' of a team structure is formed, as Fletcher recounts how a cricket team needs eight or so good, steady professionals, to allow for a couple of mavericks in a team - in this case Flintoff and Harmison. This, I guess, goes some way to explaining how lesser talented members of the 2005 team - Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles - played their part in our regaining the Ashes.Read more ›
Previous author of a non-ghosted and authoritative gem of an autobiography the former Glamorgan and England opener has used his deep inside knowledge and close working relationships with current and former England coaches Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower to produce a thoroughly researched analysis of their reigns as the guiding lights of the England test team.
James provides a witty, clear and concise analysis peppered with anecdotes and inside stories that provides an in-depth outline of the fortunes of the England team over the past decade and more importantly, James provides the reasons for the turn around and sustained levels of success over the past few seasons.
As a former player who reached international level, James is ideally placed to understand the stress of playing at the top level and also provide technical analyses and explain why some players have made it at test level and others have fallen short
If you want to read one book about the rise in fortunes of English cricket then this is the book to choose.
Steve James has played first class cricket for Glamorgan & England and is friendly with both Fletcher and Flower and various people in the ECB hierarchy so has therefore a lot of insight into the current England setup.
The book charts the rise of the England team from the nadir of 1999 vs New Zealand through to the Ashes triumph in Australia and their rise as the number 1 ranked test team. So the recent test series against South Africa(home) and India(away) are not in here.
What emerges is not a single plan but a number of things which came together to help England's rise. Getting pummelled by the Aussies for 16 years certainly helped to focus English minds and bring county cricket out of its sleeping lethargy. Lord Mclaurin takes credit here for galvanising the counties into a two division league system, with central contracts for key players. County cricket has become more competitive and key players are now turning up fit and ready to play in a test match. Just think how many games/series we might have won if this had happened 30 years before.
The setup of the centre of excellence at Loughborough, the England Lions, the Elite development programme etc are also key building blocks but again implemented by the ECB not Fletcher and Flower.
That is to take nothing away from Fletcher and Flower who are both great coaches who have certainly helped to develop England into a better team. The book provides insight into both characters, showing their similarities and differences their upbringing in Zimbabwe to their methods and approach.Read more ›
Whilst acknowledging that I am a founder member of the "born again Pessimists brigade" I do harbour some doubts upon whether this team is quite as good as some members of the media would have us believe.Am I alone in wondering whether,next year, after the conclusion of series against South Africa/India/Australia our present somewhat precarious lead among Test nations will be a fond memory?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fast-moving account of what happened between 1999 and 2011 that took English Test cricket from the worst in the world to the best. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Andy
Not much is new in here. Very well written but not much new. Read other bios first. A lot of uncritical comments which have to be reviewed in light of England's poor recent formPublished on 4 May 2014 by Mr. Dg Edwards
This is a very engaging, well written book about what will be seen in years to come as a very important epoch in English cricket. Read morePublished on 22 Oct. 2013 by Mike68
I was really impressed by this book. It's never easy to make sense of contemporary history, but Steve James does a really good job taking readers through the last fifteen years in... Read morePublished on 3 Oct. 2013 by Slow Lorris
A very well written book which gives the cricket lover an insight into the detailed planning and preparation that go into Test cricket.Published on 4 Aug. 2013 by Mr John D Galley
Well worth a read from an informed,articulate, cricket writer who knows the game. Excellent. Best cricket book I have read in 2013-the mighty Gideon not withstanding.Published on 30 July 2013 by P. Spencer
These two took a demorolised and fragmented team and transformed a number of disparate individuals into a coherent whole.Their methods couls well be used by any sports team.Published on 30 Mar. 2013 by Duntaxin
I can't really review this book as I gave it to one of my brothers. As far as I know he enjoyed it!Published on 5 Mar. 2013 by C. Stott