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The Plan By Steve James

Release date: 25th May, 2012
Publisher: Bantam Press

List Price: £20.00
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In Wisden's 2010 Cricketers' Almanack, former Somerset bowler Vic Marks wrote, "while it might be possibleƖto consult the ever-increasing number of analysts, who detail every contribution of every player, the simple explanation for England's improvement in 2009 was surely this: at the top they had the right men in the right jobs."

While partially accurate, in truth, England's journey (assisted with a fair smattering of other nationalities) on an often tortuous road to success had begun a decade earlier when two men were charged with resurrecting them from the foot of cricket's world rankings following a home defeat by an average New Zealand XI.

The dramatic turnaround in attitude, perspective and demeanour which resulted in England eventually topping the world rankings in 2011 was navigated primarily by Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower.

Former Glamorgan star Steve James is particularly well qualified to chart the reasons behind England's gradual renaissance. After reading Classics at Swansea University, he was a postgraduate at Cambridge where he gained a cricketing Blue in the side captained by Mike Atherton. He played county cricket for Glamorgan for eighteen years, accumulating almost 16,000 runs and was twice capped by England.

James illustrates how and why innovative coaching methods worked; why the choice of captains was so critical; how the introduction of central contracts relieved pressure on players and why a comprehensive overhaul of training and match preparation underpinned a remarkable turnaround.

Essentially, however, England clawed their way up the world rankings because two men in particular, Fletcher and Flower, refused to accept second best. The pair's Zimbabwean character proved a major contributor to on-field success and what sparkling success it was.

James uses his professional cricketing knowledge to dissect and then explain the reasons behind Ashes, one day and T20 triumphs with an easy, flowing style and insight which makes The Plan a genuine pleasure to read.


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