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Flower steps down as England pine for home

AT least this latest humiliating defeat had something to overshadow it:

Flower resigned as director after disappointing  winter tour of Australia
Flower resigned as director after disappointing winter tour of Australia

the more significant departure of Andy Flower as England team director. The headlines this morning, then, will not focus on a broken and tired Stuart Broad admitting his side just wanted to come home, having been bashed and smacked and thumped over mid-on for an entire summer by a merciless and buoyant Australia.

The killer blow was struck yesterday - although there is another T20 match in this series to come, in which England's rotting corpse will twitch one last time in the sun - with the announcement of Flower's wilting.

"Following the recent very disappointing Ashes defeat it is clear to me that this is now time for England cricket, led by Alastair Cook, to rebuild with a new set of values and goals," Flower said. "The opportunity to start with a clean slate and begin to instil methods to ensure England cricket is moving in the right direction will be an incredibly exciting challenge for someone but I do not feel like I am in a position to undertake that challenge."

Flower was thanked by Giles Clarke, the chairman of the English Cricket Board, and Paul Downton -the man entasked with overseeing a revival - called him the "most successful coach in England's history" and said he was disappointed to see him leave, though he also revealed they were in "advanced stages" of negotiating a role for the former director within the ECB.

The man who had looked the likeliest to replace Flower - and probably still is - Ashley Giles, is currently doing his chances a fair bit of excruciatingly sustained harm.

Flower's dramatic collapse on to his own sharpened bat overshadowed another brutal display by Australia at the MCG. The hosts cruised to an eight-wicket win with 31 balls to spare to complete an inevitable series victory. Once again, the decisive win came at the first possible time of asking, in a summer which has contained more dead rubbers than Hades' pencil case.

And with news already swirling around Flower's departure, Broad wearily conceded he was looking forward to returning home after Sunday's final 20-over match in Sydney. "It's been a torrid tour for team England," he said. "We came here with high hopes in the Test arena and lost 5-0. We didn't really get going in a one-day series which we probably should have won, and lost 4-1, and now we've lost the T20 series.

"It's been a really tough tour on the cricket side of things and off the field. We've lost a few guys who have gone home. I don't think many players or coaches will look back on this tour with huge fondness."

England will have little time to lick their wounds when they return home early next week, with preparations for the T20 World Cup soon to be gotten underway. They travel to the Caribbean in just over a fortnight before the tournament starts in Bangladesh on March 16.

Broad insisted - perhaps in hope more than expectation - that these Australian scars will have faded by then, but a few more were added by the news that his side have now tumbled down the world rankings to eighth place, just ahead of Ireland.

"I think a few of the guys are looking forward to having two weeks at home in their own bed and refreshing and not thinking about cricket for a while and then coming back a bit refreshed to the Caribbean," he said. "We've got an exciting T20 side there's no doubt about that. You look through the line-up. We've played some really good cricket.

"[But] we've not won as many games as we should have done. That's part and parcel of Twenty20 cricket."

England were limp with the bat in Melbourne as their top order crumbled before managing 130 for nine.

Unbeaten half-centuries from Australia captain George Bailey and opener Cameron White ensured it was a score that never taxed the hosts - again without a number of their key men who have already jetted off for the tour of South Africa.

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