England v Bangladesh, 1st npower Test, Lord's, 4th day May 30, 2010

Flower admits to bowler rustiness


England's coach, Andy Flower, admitted that his bowlers were finding it tough to readjust to the disciplines of five-day cricket after another chastising day in the field against Bangladesh at Lord's. Barely a fortnight ago, Flower and his charges were in the Caribbean, celebrating England's triumph in the World Twenty20, but right now, the short-form bowling skills that were instrumental in that victory are proving insufficient to dislodge an obdurate Bangladesh batting line-up.

Bangladesh were asked to follow-on after being dismissed for 282 on the fourth morning, but reached a confident 328 for 5 in their second innings, a lead of 105. Tamim Iqbal led the way with a brilliant 94-ball century, and was expertly assisted by Imrul Kayes, who made 75 in an opening stand of 185, before Junaid Siddique (66 not out) and Jahurul Islam (46) propped up the middle order.

England's attack was led once again by Steven Finn, who took his match tally to six with two further scalps, but for James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and even Graeme Swann, who have all missed out on first-class practice during the World Twenty20, there was a lot of toil with very little reward, at least until the second new ball was claimed late in the day.

"I think in both innings the bowlers themselves would acknowledge they have not performed as they would have liked," said Flower. "We let them get away in the first innings, then dragged it back. But today I thought their openers played superbly. Imrul Kayes left the ball well, and Tamim obviously played a great aggressive innings. We do acknowledge that and give them credit, but we know that we were a little below-par."

England's toils also led to inevitable questions about the balance of the attack, with Jonathan Trott's medium pace being drafted in to bolster a struggling four-man attack. But Flower disagreed that an extra front-line seamer would have made any difference to the scoreline, and instead hinted that Bresnan and Anderson in particular needed to raise their game.

"I don't think the number of bowlers is the issue. I think the way we bowled is the issue," said Flower. "Finn has been excellent, especially in the first innings. He's been superb, quite accurate and surprisingly so for a young man of that sort of pace. But Jimmy Anderson, after a long break and with not much first-class cricket under his belt, is not really hitting his straps - until this evening when, with the new ball from the pavilion end, he looked superb. He was a little bit more like the Jimmy Anderson we know.

"Tim Bresnan was superb in the West Indies in the Twenty20 stuff. But that's a different type of bowling, the type where he can come wide of the crease and angle the ball into the right-handers and swing is not all that important. He hasn't had a chance to get any first-class cricket under his belt for I don't know how many weeks, since three games at the start of the season."

Flower conceded that he had considered selecting a bowling line-up that had been playing more first-class cricket this season, but added that it would have set an unwanted precedent. "I did think about that," he said, "but in the end you also want to pick the right guys.

"You have to make do with whatever schedule you are given, and we got Jimmy back as soon as we could from the West Indies - and he played the second half of that first-class game for Lancashire. Bresnan needed to rest a niggling knee, so couldn't do that. We just make the best of the situation we've got.

One man who did miss out for this match was Stuart Broad, but though Flower conceded that his aggression might have made a short-term difference to the quality of the attack, he reiterated his belief that his key players would need to be rested during the course of a long season. "The Stuart Broad decision is one based on what's best for English cricket and Stuart Broad, looking to the medium and long term," he said. "Sometimes, you have to make those tough decisions."

Looking to the match situation, with England needing five quick wickets to avoid the prospect of an embarrassing draw against the weakest team in Test cricket, Flower insisted that there had been no under-estimating of opponents who had proven tough to beat in their own conditions two months ago. "Other people have talked them down a bit, and talked us up. But we certainly haven't done that in our own changing room.

"We respect them, and they fought very hard in Bangladesh and very hard here. But we've got a brand new ball, and it always does a bit more in the morning - so we've got a good opportunity we need to take then. I personally think there's enough in this pitch to get a result."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • tomjs100 on May 31, 2010, 12:05 GMT

    It was clear the bowlers were rusty, looking at how short & defensively they were bowling. Bangladesh playing above their usual standard on a flat wicket combined with undercooked bowlers means there wasn't the usual innings victory within 4 days that everyone expected.

  • AAJS on May 31, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    ... we were being told how well Finn has performed in his county matches and let's face it he has been the most effective. Anderson came back from T20 to play county cricket, and so did Bresnan... so even though he is a Rhodesian.. he already talks like an English man.. full of excuses and how 'we' are not doing this or that rather than praising when you know your behind has been smacked. This reminds me of CMJ on the radio when the West Indian pacemen were creating havoc and people didn't fancy facing them - he cam up with a clever suggestion that may be we need to make the pitch longer to compensate for the physical advantage that the West Indians have.. Pathetic!

  • boris6491 on May 31, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    This really seems to be nothing more than a well-timed excuse from Andy Flower. Would this have been admitted if they had had a good day? It is disappointing as an inherent lack of respect for Bangladesh is evident through these words. England's complacency has been the reason for their poor display. I fully agree with maximum6 on the subject of Bresnan, truth be told he is not a test bowler. I think Sidebottom would be a better substitute. I also concur with Freddy McKie as the disrespect even for test cricket as a whole is obvious from England. Shane Warne came out and expressed that England were ready to challenge Australia for the Ashes on the basis of a win in T20. In the test arena, Warney's words don't seem to be holding truth. Rather than berate his bowlers and make excuses, Flower can accept that Bangladesh and particularly Tamim were too good for his bowlers and rusty or not, they just need to plain bowl better and respect their opposition and test cricket.

  • dummy4fb on May 31, 2010, 8:09 GMT

    England will lose this match.

  • plmx on May 31, 2010, 7:54 GMT

    Oh dear! The poor English bowlers were a little rusty and the Lords Cricket pitch has a slope and the wrong type of rain fell the previous day and very disturbing sunny weather prevailed on Sunday, otherwise how else could the inept Bangladeshi batsmen fare so well against the mighty English bowlers!

  • SettingSun on May 31, 2010, 7:26 GMT

    More rubbish from Flower. The amount of bowlers IS the issue when the four you have are tired at the end of the day. If you have five, they are less tired. You don't need that amount of batting against Bangladesh. It's very, very simple and on England's part very, very negative.

  • Ruhel_Moscow on May 31, 2010, 6:58 GMT

    @open-eyed.............keep dreaming.english r good wen weather helps them.believe it or not!!its true.............

  • Vindaliew on May 31, 2010, 5:11 GMT

    If it wasn't for that one rainy day when Bangladesh were forced to bat in little sessions, disrupting concentration, the English bowling figures might look even worse (although if Bangladesh didn't follow on the English bowling wouldn't have suffered as much .. yet). Was there no county cricket for the bowlers to get back into the groove of the longer game, or were they deliberately rested?

  • Gupta.Ankur on May 31, 2010, 3:41 GMT

    It seems Eng were plain lucky in Bangladeshi's 1st Inngs when they had over-head clud-cover...

    Its highly amusing Flower is saying that his bowlers were rusty after they have the other team f/o and that eng's domestic season is well under-way.........

  • dummy4fb on May 31, 2010, 2:58 GMT

    While Anderson and Swann may be a little underdone in terms of first-class cricket, this England bowling attack must hardly be striking fear into the hearts of the Australians ahead of the Ashes.

    Bresnan is not a Test bowler and is best left to limited-overs cricket at international level. If he is in England's plans for their Ashes defence, the little urn may well be handed over again in a lopsided scoreline.

    As for resting players in Test cricket (it's good to see captain Strauss back, but now Broad's having a break) it's pathetic. Test cricket is the ultimate. Players should not be rested from this form of the game.

    Instead they should be rested from county cricket, ODIs and T20s as required in order to ensure they are available - and fit and healthy - for each and every Test.

    It's sad that England of all nations - being the country that gave us Test cricket - is now treating this form of the game (and opponents) with such disrespect. C'mon Bangladesh - get a draw!

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