Cricket's Andy Flower wins big at UK coaching awards

By Matt SlaterSports news reporter
Andy Flower (left) and Her Royal Highness Princess Royal
Flower's diligent approach has taken England to the top of the Test rankings

England cricket coach Andy Flower was the big winner at the 2011 UK Coaching Awards in London on Tuesday.

Flower was named UK Coach of the Year and High-Performance Coach of the Year for leading England to the top of the Test rankings and winning the Ashes.

The other main prizes went to Malcolm Arnold, who was given a lifetime achievement award and recognised for his work with 400m hurdler Dai Greene.

There was also a posthumous award for former England bowler Graham Dilley.

The former England, Kent and Worcestershire paceman, who died in October aged just 52, was honoured for his work in developing young talent at Surrey, Scotland and more recently Loughborough University.

The 1981 Ashes winner also worked as bowling coach for England on their tours of India, New Zealand and Australia in 2001-2003.

But the glittering occasion at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in Knightsbridge really belonged to Flower.

Since becoming England's head coach in 2009, the team has enjoyed a remarkable run of success. This year's historic Ashes series victory in Australia and thumping wins at home against Sri Lanka and India have taken England to the top of pile in the long form of the game.

There have also been significant wins in Twenty20 and 50-over cricket, although England's record away from home in one-day internationals remains patchy.

Flower's impact has been all the more surprising given his relative inexperience as a coach before landing the top job in English cricket. The 43-year-old only finished playing for Zimbabwe in 2002 and was still scoring heavily for Essex five years ago.

Arnold, on the other hand, has been turning athletes into champions for decades.

The 71-year-old Englishman has been to the last 11 Olympics as a national coach and he has helped athletes, including Colin Jackson and Jason Gardner, win more than 65 major medals in a 44-year coaching career.

Greene, who won gold at the World Championships in September, is his latest protege but other athletes from his training group have also enjoyed considerable success at European and age-group levels.

In fact, all of Greene's coaches were recognised in the Coaching Chain award, a special prize given to every coach who has played a part in developing a star: Wynford Leyshon, Darrell Maynard, Benke Blomkvist and Arnold have all helped the Welshman from his early days at Swansea Harriers to now.

The annual UK Coaching Awards are staged by sports coach UK, this country's main agency for coaching excellence.