In 1999, England slumped to a new low in their long and tumultuous cricket history. Defeat in a home series at the hands of a mediocre New Zealand team saw them fall to the bottom of the world Test rankings, below even Zimbabwe. Yet only just over a decade later, England had reached the top. It has been a remarkable and profound transformation, brought about largely by two men with an insatiable desire to succeed, Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower.
In The Plan, Steve James tells the story of the renaissance of English cricket from a unique perspective. As the former batting partner of ECB managing director Hugh Morris, a player under Fletcher at Glamorgan and Flower’s closest confidant in the press corps, James is able to both relate and analyse the reasons behind the rise. From crucial choices of captain to innovative coaching and a complete overhaul of training and preparation for matches, it is the tale of a refusal to be second best.
And in examining Fletcher and Flower’s background in Zimbabwe, where James himself played, he uncovers the continental shift behind the turnaround. It is the story of how English steel has been melded with African fire to create the most potent combination in world cricket.