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.
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The most insightful cricket book of the year - Daily Mail
Excellent - The Times
An excellent book and courageous in the way it revisits and interrogates the opinions of the moment, including the author's own, in light of subsequent developments. As well as knowledge there is a rare warmth and sympathy to his portraits of men who are probably easier to respect than truly to know. The Plan is rich in unfamiliar detail and even the sideways glances are penetrating. The cricket points are well made, the personal judgements astute. Like his subjects James has made a good plan and stuck to it - The Cricketer
Fine detail... a persuasive account of the renaissance of English cricket, and no one is better qualified to tell it. [Steve James] has become a member of an influential new British school of cricket writing - The Economist
James' quiet excellence, uncomplicated style and informed perspective make his Sunday column a 'don't miss'. The Plan is more of the same... Compelling - Cricinfo
A hugely enjoyable and engrossing read... highly recommended - The Reverse Sweep
Unrivalled insight and captivating analysis... James has peerless knowledge of Fletcher and Flower - he argues his view brilliantly - www.cricketweb.net
By this author
About the Author
Steve James is cricket columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and a sports writer for the Daily Telegraph.
He read Classics at Swansea University before becoming a postgraduate at Cambridge, where he won a Blue in the side captained by Mike Atherton. He played his county cricket with Glamorgan for eighteen years, scoring nearly 16,000 runs at an average of over 40, and captaining them for three seasons, winning a National League trophy in 2002, before retiring due to injury.
In 1997 James helped Glamorgan to win the County Championship for the first time in nearly thirty years and was named the Professional Cricketers Association Player of the Year. He still holds the record for highest score by a Glamorgan batsman (309 not out against Sussex at Colwyn Bay in 2000) and also won two caps for England.