In 1999, England slumped to a new low in their tumultuous cricket history. Defeat at home by 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 reached the top. It was 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 the perfect analyst of this period in cricket history. 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 was melded with African fire to create the most potent combination in world cricket.
"The most insightful cricket book of the year"
"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"
"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"
"James' quiet excellence, uncomplicated style and informed perspective make his Sunday column a "don't miss". The Plan is more of the same... Compelling"