Former England coach and Zimbabwe cricket legend Andy Flower has become the 101st inductee into the ICC Hall of Fame, joining an august list of 10 cricket icons selected to celebrate the history of Test cricket, and to coincide with the first World Test Championship Final, which begins this Friday.
Of considerable note, is that in that list he joins Kumar Sangakkara, also a 2021 inductee, as the only two Hall of Famers who are doubly honoured, featuring not just amongst the ICC legends, but also celebrated in our Guerilla Cricket theme tune.
Even more coincidentally, both are lefty wicket-keeper batsmen, so perhaps that is the sweet spot that denotes the intersection of a Guerilla/ICC Hall of fame legend.
Has the ICC become more enlightened and broad minded we wonder? Apart from variable cricketing excellence, the primary qualification for our introductory music, of course, is to have a name that rhymes with a historical revolutionary. But Flower and Sangakkara, will give hope, albeit posthumously in some cases, to Douglas Jardine, Darrell Hair, O'Brien Kevin, Lenny Pascoe, Umar Akmal, Grant Flower, Ian Austin, Jamie Howe, Asif Din, Graeme Saville and Percy Fender.
Flower's ICC inclusion, though, is richly deserved for purely cricketing reasons of course. He captain Zimbabwe before going on to enjoy success as coach of the England cricket team.
Following his induction, Zimbabwe Cricket chairman, Tavengwa Mukuhlani, hailed the 53-year-old as a true legend of the sport.
"This is an absolutely awesome and well-deserved acknowledgement that has immortalised him as one of the world's greatest cricket players ever," he said.
"We are not only proud of our true legend for the latest honour bestowed upon him, but also grateful to him for the immense contributions that he has made and continues to make to cricket on and off the field."
The first player from Zimbabwe to be included in the Hall of Fame, Flower enjoyed a stellar international career spanning 11 years, playing 63 Tests, scoring 4,794 runs at 51.54, and taking 151 catches and nine stumpings.
An ICC statement said: "His grit, determination and will to succeed meant at one point he was ranked the No 1 batsman in the world. Andy carried his country's batting for long periods."
As a testament to Flower's greatness, most of the records he made during his playing days still stand today – 18 years after he retired.
He is the only Zimbabwean to be ranked the world's No 1 Test batsman. He also remains the only player to score an ODI hundred on debut in a World Cup match after he announced his arrival on the big stage with an unbeaten 115 against Sri Lanka in February 23 at New Plymouth in New Zealand. He holds the Zimbabwean records for the most Test career runs, the highest Test batting average and most ODI career runs. His 12 centuries and 27 fifties in Test cricket as well as 55 ODI fifties have also not been surpassed by any other Zimbabwean cricketer.
Having succeeded Peter Moores as England coach in 2009, the team won the Ashes at home. In 2010, they won the World T20 in the West Indies and followed it with a 3-1 victory in the Ashes in Australia.
In 2011, England became the No 1-ranked team in Test cricket. In that same year, he was awarded the 2011 Coach of the Year in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. He also successfully led England to Ashes victory in 2013 winning the Test series 3–0.
There were those who felt that Flower's approach, brilliantly dissected by Flower himself in The Edge, Barney Douglas's documentary account of the reinvention of English cricket under his leadership, was excessively authoritarian. Flower admits in retrospect to reservations about the mental impact of some of his methods. But England's players were in no doubt that that being "seventh best in the world was simply not good enough" and they could either get with Flower's programme or get going.
Seek it out; Flower's candour and reflection alone are worthy of viewing and demonstrate the drive that has ultimately earned him his rewards
Jingle by James Sherwood