Andy Flower, the former Zimbabwean great and the current coach of England's A team set-up, has come out and stated that the biggest reason for England's Test team's poor showing is the kind of surfaces county championship is producing and that it is subsequently robbing the young cricketers coming through off the skills required to excel at the international level against good teams on better surfaces.
The country is going through a very tough phase where their first class structure is struggling with the decline in competition levels. There is a huge need for better surfaces that promote a better balance between bat and ball, rather than swing dominating, has been advocated by various corners.
Andy Flower was recently quoted saying, "We want to, ideally, recreate international conditions in our domestic cricket, Out of proper international conditions, there's an imperative for fast bowling rather than the little seamers that dominate the game and good quality spin bowling. You get the consequent benefit of batsmen facing that bowling. When reviewing the domestic structure that has to be very much a big part of that decision."
Flower further talked about another issue cropping up where there is growing number of cricketers preferring to play the IPL in India and not the early part of the first-class season, he said, "A lot of people will say things have thankfully moved on from my decisions around subjects like the IPL. But the ECB position, at the moment, is allowing some of our best players to go to the IPL. That does mean they miss out on some really excellent growth opportunities in first-class cricket for their counties. There is no doubt about that. The understanding at the moment is that they are growing in other ways, playing under a lot of pressure, in front of big crowds and in amongst some of the best players in the world at the IPL."
He also pointed about the junior cricket set-up in England, for which ECB has employed him, by saying, "The ECB spend a reasonable amount of money in Lions and Young Lions (U19) programmes. What we try to do here is provide some 'add value' experiences that the counties can't provide in their first-class structure: alien conditions, really good opposition most of the time and almost mirroring some long, tough overseas tours"
"I think it would be fair to say we haven't done that well enough because we aren't getting those away results. We have to review how we're doing things and be creative and curious about the way we lead those programmes and about how we coach and how we help these guys quicker and deeper: about themselves, about the game."
Flower also announced that Mark Ramprakash the former England batsman will be interim coach of the England Lions set-up for the summer this year. He said, "Ramps is a really good man and a really good coach. He's also a young coach learning his trade. This is part of that growth for him. It's a really good opportunity for him to lead a management and coaching team, lead a team in a series. He'll coach the Lions in the upcoming tri-series and the four-day game against India at Worcester. He led the South side in the North-South side and did it really well. I was his assistant coach and he was outstanding out there. It's a good opportunity for him."