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We knew he was a star; EX-BANGOR TEAM-MATES HAIL ASHES HERO FLOWER.

Byline: DAVID POWELL

CRICKETERS from Ashes hero Andy Flower's former club always expected their player/coach would excel at the top level.

England clinched the Ashes series against Australia 2-1 at The Oval on Sunday in a gripping fifth Test.

England coach Flower spent four months at Bangor Cricket Club in 1999 - and the team then won three straight North Wales Cricket League titles.

Gareth Edwards, who was the then first XI captain, praised Flower's techniques. And current skipper Robbie Marshall "thanks his lucky stars" he learned so much from Flower.

Mr Edwards said: "He was always very knowledgeable. After the Headingley Test (which England lost), someone like Andy Flower would have got the players back on track."

He remembers how the Zimbabwean star came to Gwynedd. "I was Bangor club captain in 1999, which was a World Cup year in England," he said.

"We were allowed an overseas professional so our chairman wrote to a number of World Cup players asking if anyone would like to stay on.

"Andy took it as an opportunity to have an extended break in the UK.

"He was a class act. He was an absolute dream to have as a batsman. He was a prolific run scorer and he offered advice in a quiet, measured way. He was never shouting. He ran net sessions and made slight adjustments to your technique."

He added: "He created a huge buzz not only for Bangor but for everyone in North Wales cricket. Everyone wanted to play against a Test match player. It was their cup final and they tried hard to get him out - it would have been a feather in their cap. But he only had one, what you might call a 'poor' game here."

Current captain Robbie Marshall was equally glowing. Robbie, 28, who was a rookie 18-year-old when Flower was at Bangor, said: "I'm over the moon for him. No-one deserves it more. England's victory is not a surprise. Andy's man management skills are fantastic he's a fantastic bloke.

"He gets the best out every individual. I thank my lucky stars I worked with him. He transformed my game. He took us from being a team who turned up for a bit of a laugh into a more professional team outfit."

Flower himself relished the Aussie conquest. "It's been brilliant to be involved with an Ashes series. I'm proud to have been part of it," he said.

"It's been exciting, and it's been lovely full houses and the passion in people's faces. Being there on Sunday with capacity crowds, who stayed on for the awards ceremony and cheered the boys as they walked around the field, was pretty special."

Flower, who lived in Caernarfon while playing for Bangor, enjoyed his time here. He said: "I fitted in really well. The guys welcomed me with open arms. The club's main sponsor put me and my family up in the harbour area of Caernarfon. The memory of running up Snowdon as part of my fitness training still stays with me now. My wife would drive me out into the hills somewhere and I would run back home."

davidpowell@dailypost.co.uk and seeing of

WE'LL KEEP FEET ON THE GROUND Ashes fever P36& 37

CAPTION(S):

Andy Flower in his days playing for Bangor (far right). 'I thank my lucky stars I worked with him,' said current captain Robbie Marshall (right) England coach Andy Flower with the Ashes Urn and (inset) the team celebrates Sunday's victory
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 25, 2009
Words:581
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