England's rise to Test No. 1 August 14, 2011

Short-term goals will keep England at top - Flower

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Andy Flower says that England will seek to defend their new status as the world's No. 1 Test side by attacking a series of short-term goals, starting with the winter tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as they set about reassessing their priorities in the wake of a crushing innings-and-242-run triumph against India at Edgbaston on Saturday.

That performance, which was built on the back of Alastair Cook's career-best 294, took England to an unassailable 3-0 series lead with just the Oval Test to come later this week, and ensured that, in little more than two years since the squad was torn apart by the falling-out between the then-captain and coach, Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores, England have surged to the top of the world Test rankings.

Flower, however, is already looking to the future as he plots a means to turn England's spell at the top into something longer lasting. Writing in his Daily Telegraph column, Shane Warne conceded that the current England team has the look and feel of long-term champions, with big-match temperaments in every position from 1 to 11.

Such heightened new expectations will be tough for Flower's men to live up to, but he believes that two challenges in particular - the forthcoming challenge in the subcontinent, and the inaugural World Test Championship in 2013 - will provide all the focus his players need to ensure their ranking looks after itself.

"I always think it is very dangerous to try to hold on to what you have got," Flower told reporters after the Edgbaston Test. "We used that goal - to be No1 - as a motivational tool that drove us in training and in matches. Now that we have achieved that, what [Andrew] Strauss and I don't want to do is hang on to No. 1 status. That's not a very exciting way to go about our business. We are going to have to reset our goals.

"This winter we go to play against two countries that the last time England toured those countries, we lost. We want to go away and play Pakistan and Sri Lanka away from home and win those series. Ignoring the ranking, those series will have their own importance.

"We've also got the World Test Championship for the first time in 2013 and that's in our own country. That is certainly something we are striving for - we have to be in the top four to get into the semi- finals of it and we are going to be working hard between now and then to ensure we are a strong unit ready for that semi-final."

It was a tour of Pakistan that ended England's last comparable run of sustained form six years ago, when the 2005 Ashes winners were stunned by an unlikely defeat in Multan then crushed by an innings in Lahore. The squad never recovered its momentum after their run of six consecutive series wins had been ended, and Flower is wary that a similar fate can still await this team if they allow their guard to drop.

"Now we are ranked No.1, people will be very hungry to knock us off that perch. There is no doubt about that," said Flower. "It is one thing being good for a short period of time - but having a side that delivers some special results and has some special times together that they will remember for the rest of their lives, that will be a much better thing to look back on than a few victories here and there."

To that end, Flower heaped praise on his Test captain, Strauss, whom he lauded as a "an outstanding leader and a special man". The pair bonded in the Caribbean during England's tour in the spring of 2009, where a disastrous collapse to 51 all out in the first Test in Sabina Park gave both men the licence they needed to mould the team in their own driven images. "The players, after being asked to embrace responsibility, have delivered," he said. "Strauss asked that of them when he took over the captaincy a couple of years ago, and they are repaying him."

At the age of 34, Strauss may not have many more series left at the helm, and so the prospect of taking part in the Ashes double-header in 2013-14 could prove to be a very personal motivation for the final stage of his career. However, his deputy, Cook, has enhanced his credentials as a leader, both through the sheer weight of his batting performances, and latterly through his impressive series win over Sri Lanka in the ODIs. The succession, it would appear, is in safe hands, which lends weight to the perception that England could yet establish a dynasty to rival those of West Indies and Australia in the past 30 years.

Flower, however, does not want to address such grandiose ambitions, and prefers to keep his goals closer to home. "That isn't a very clear target as yet," he said. "I like goals to be fairly specific. I don't think we can compare ourselves to those sides, to be quite honest. They dominated world cricket for lengthy periods. We have been playing well for a little while now but only for a short time in cricketing history terms.

"Who knows what the future holds though? That is going to be up to us."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • venga_pal on August 17, 2011, 10:06 GMT

    This England is feeling that they are invincible etc. Even KP the other day was speaking about having killer instinct etc. This already shows their arrogance.

    I dont see them going too far. Broad is in good form and all it takes is an injury and u easily loose the rythm.I beleive BUT the key point behind their victory is that they won so far against a very week indian bowling attack. The indian bowling didnt put any pressure on their batting and that inturn relieved the pressure on the bowlers to be succesuful and put pressure on indian batsman to fail. Note that Eng have a very good record of crumbling under pressure.

    The real test comes when they play againt strong bowling attacks such as SA. and also on sub-continent. The mighty Australlia that it was had to succumb to indian team on Indian Soil.

    Its all too early to say ENG will be No.1 for a while. They are good on their soil that to be accepted. note that SA can easily de-throne them very soon with Gary at the helm.

  • bouncedout on August 17, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    you lot make me laugh.

    SA have had ample chance to be No1 but have been unable to achieve it.

    England are number 1 because they are the best test team on the planet at this time. They are so far ahead of a declining indian side that it is frightening.

    We will see how you feel when England beat both Pak and SL this winter. Being No1 feels gooood...............

  • on August 17, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    @terrifyingwarriors if SA are so good then why did they not win their home series against either India or England? I agree that they are the other contenders but saying they would dominate England does not ring true because when we last played in SA they drew the tests and lost the ODI's. Hardly dominating. Still SA can get to number 1 if they win well against SL and AUS as England wont be playing until the winter. It would be a real shame for England to lose the No.1 spot without even the chance to defend it!

  • terrifyingwarriors on August 17, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    There's No doubt England has performed extraordinarily well in this series thus far. But when it comes to being World no.1, I don't think England can be as threatening as they can be in there home grounds. The real No.1 test team is 'SA', they have every reason to be one. Good Bowling. Good batting order and extraordinary fielding and above all 'Passion'. And of course can dominate any given opponents away from home. Talking of India! I reckon they lost because they were very over confident and arrogant after winning the World cup. They are very Good side too and I expect them to bounce back hard at Australians late this year. South Africa will dominate this England. BTW am an Indian.

  • Chris_P on August 17, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    South Africa has a chance to claim #1 as they have few points to defend int he next 6 months, but thereafter, maximum points will need to be defended as England are still losing next to nothing for the next 15 to 18 months. After the Sth Afica series, Australia can only go up with very few points ot be dropped off. The teams that will go into a big decline willl be India & SL if they lose or draw series, although India have the most to lose. SO short term goals is the way to go for England. Some things are out of their hands, but hwat they can control they should target.

  • 98-10_157-0 on August 17, 2011, 2:49 GMT

    South Africa reaching No 1 is not such a long shot and is entirely in their hands. Even if England win at The Oval this week, SA would only need to beat Australia 1-0 or 2-0 in their 2 match home series in November and then beat Sri Lanka 3-0 at home in Dec/Jan to overtake England who have no more fixtures until Paklstan later in January. If England fail to beat India this week then 1-0 and 2-0 series wins would be sufficient.

  • Lord_Dravid on August 16, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    England wont do well in the subcontinent simply because they are not very good at playing spin. As for their bowlers who have all suddenly become famous bowling and doing well against a crisis indian side, and bowling on bowler friendly conditions, its inevitable in the near future, they and all english fans will realise they're just a normal team like any other. They will struggle against india in the ODI series in october in india like they did last time. The rankings will just continue to go up and down every now and again.

  • TaylorSwift on August 16, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    Andy Flower rightfully deserves a lot of credit for England's impressive performances over the last two years. This group has redefined the term, "team work", and everyone from top to bottom is a potential match-winner. India's tenure at the top was always going to be short-lived because they lack an all-around unit. England's title defence starts now and I am eagerly awaiting the away series against Pakistan (in UAE) and the home series against SA next summer.

  • Chapelau on August 16, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    Sunglassesron: you make a good point but I still think Morgan is not up to seaming wickets at Test level - Taylor is probably a better bet, Morgan a good squad player. Blondblackberry: spin is not alien to the English team - issue will come more with Sri Lanka than India or Pak as the latter two don't have any decent spinners. If England win in Sri this winter, it will be point proven as to whether they are true world champions. Let us also not forget who is ranked as the world's best spinner - G Swann!

  • YorkshirePudding on August 16, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    I'd agree that SA at the moment are the only real contenders, but they generally have poor home form while being excellent away from home, and thats why, unfairly I'll admit, they get the tag of chokers. I'm looking forward to next years series in the UK, it should be a good and hardly fought series.

  • venga_pal on August 17, 2011, 10:06 GMT

    This England is feeling that they are invincible etc. Even KP the other day was speaking about having killer instinct etc. This already shows their arrogance.

    I dont see them going too far. Broad is in good form and all it takes is an injury and u easily loose the rythm.I beleive BUT the key point behind their victory is that they won so far against a very week indian bowling attack. The indian bowling didnt put any pressure on their batting and that inturn relieved the pressure on the bowlers to be succesuful and put pressure on indian batsman to fail. Note that Eng have a very good record of crumbling under pressure.

    The real test comes when they play againt strong bowling attacks such as SA. and also on sub-continent. The mighty Australlia that it was had to succumb to indian team on Indian Soil.

    Its all too early to say ENG will be No.1 for a while. They are good on their soil that to be accepted. note that SA can easily de-throne them very soon with Gary at the helm.

  • bouncedout on August 17, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    you lot make me laugh.

    SA have had ample chance to be No1 but have been unable to achieve it.

    England are number 1 because they are the best test team on the planet at this time. They are so far ahead of a declining indian side that it is frightening.

    We will see how you feel when England beat both Pak and SL this winter. Being No1 feels gooood...............

  • on August 17, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    @terrifyingwarriors if SA are so good then why did they not win their home series against either India or England? I agree that they are the other contenders but saying they would dominate England does not ring true because when we last played in SA they drew the tests and lost the ODI's. Hardly dominating. Still SA can get to number 1 if they win well against SL and AUS as England wont be playing until the winter. It would be a real shame for England to lose the No.1 spot without even the chance to defend it!

  • terrifyingwarriors on August 17, 2011, 5:20 GMT

    There's No doubt England has performed extraordinarily well in this series thus far. But when it comes to being World no.1, I don't think England can be as threatening as they can be in there home grounds. The real No.1 test team is 'SA', they have every reason to be one. Good Bowling. Good batting order and extraordinary fielding and above all 'Passion'. And of course can dominate any given opponents away from home. Talking of India! I reckon they lost because they were very over confident and arrogant after winning the World cup. They are very Good side too and I expect them to bounce back hard at Australians late this year. South Africa will dominate this England. BTW am an Indian.

  • Chris_P on August 17, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    South Africa has a chance to claim #1 as they have few points to defend int he next 6 months, but thereafter, maximum points will need to be defended as England are still losing next to nothing for the next 15 to 18 months. After the Sth Afica series, Australia can only go up with very few points ot be dropped off. The teams that will go into a big decline willl be India & SL if they lose or draw series, although India have the most to lose. SO short term goals is the way to go for England. Some things are out of their hands, but hwat they can control they should target.

  • 98-10_157-0 on August 17, 2011, 2:49 GMT

    South Africa reaching No 1 is not such a long shot and is entirely in their hands. Even if England win at The Oval this week, SA would only need to beat Australia 1-0 or 2-0 in their 2 match home series in November and then beat Sri Lanka 3-0 at home in Dec/Jan to overtake England who have no more fixtures until Paklstan later in January. If England fail to beat India this week then 1-0 and 2-0 series wins would be sufficient.

  • Lord_Dravid on August 16, 2011, 19:55 GMT

    England wont do well in the subcontinent simply because they are not very good at playing spin. As for their bowlers who have all suddenly become famous bowling and doing well against a crisis indian side, and bowling on bowler friendly conditions, its inevitable in the near future, they and all english fans will realise they're just a normal team like any other. They will struggle against india in the ODI series in october in india like they did last time. The rankings will just continue to go up and down every now and again.

  • TaylorSwift on August 16, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    Andy Flower rightfully deserves a lot of credit for England's impressive performances over the last two years. This group has redefined the term, "team work", and everyone from top to bottom is a potential match-winner. India's tenure at the top was always going to be short-lived because they lack an all-around unit. England's title defence starts now and I am eagerly awaiting the away series against Pakistan (in UAE) and the home series against SA next summer.

  • Chapelau on August 16, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    Sunglassesron: you make a good point but I still think Morgan is not up to seaming wickets at Test level - Taylor is probably a better bet, Morgan a good squad player. Blondblackberry: spin is not alien to the English team - issue will come more with Sri Lanka than India or Pak as the latter two don't have any decent spinners. If England win in Sri this winter, it will be point proven as to whether they are true world champions. Let us also not forget who is ranked as the world's best spinner - G Swann!

  • YorkshirePudding on August 16, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    I'd agree that SA at the moment are the only real contenders, but they generally have poor home form while being excellent away from home, and thats why, unfairly I'll admit, they get the tag of chokers. I'm looking forward to next years series in the UK, it should be a good and hardly fought series.

  • on August 16, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    Andy Flower Is A Rhodesian/Zimbabwe, Just Think What He Would Have Done To Zimbabwe Cricket If Robert Gabriel Mugabe Was Dead.

  • bumsonseats on August 16, 2011, 12:21 GMT

    kavajo i expect SA will have a good say to who gets top spot. u have a very good team, with 1 great and 1 good pace bowler. and a good spinner which you have just got. batting very similar in quality. with perhaps englands 3 all rounders just giving them an edge. and unlike india if you win the toss in england on wickets similar to against india you may get the upper hand. you and your fellow SA supporters should be the 1s giving the comments on here and less indian who have had their time. dpk

  • allblue on August 16, 2011, 11:57 GMT

    @Kavajo (August 16 2011, 11:03 AM GMT) I agree, SA look a mighty impressive side to me. As good as Jimmy now is, Steyn is out on his own as the best bowler in the world and Morkel has developed well since he was a raw kid on the 2008 tour of England. With the introduction of Tahir they now have a quality spinner, and although perhaps first change isn't so strong that looks a potent attack on any surface. Similarly, the middle order of Amla, Kallis and de Villiers is as good as any around, and what's more they know how to play Test innings. Sometimes you need to play out a session at 2.5 rpo to build a position, and SA did that several times in 2008. In fact I think England learned from that, as recent history shows. Possibly the one weakness historically is mental fragility, but the Kirsten/Donald management team look to be the right people to deal with that. Eng and SA to battle it out at the top for a few years while India deal with the retirement of the Trinity and Aussie regroup.

  • on August 16, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    @ Stalkonda: No hard feelings, u r my bro. I do respect ur team,but am very disappointed at their performance. U just can't allow England to be #1. It's unacceptable in my world. By the way my team is WI, and my hero is 'BIG CAT' CLIVE. Don't worry bro we'll deal with them next yr. India miss a trick, instead of querying the DRS, they should have noticed the playing venues, nothing is spinning,everything is bouncing. Not even Swann is effective, poor Bhajji.

  • Kavajo on August 16, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    All this talk of being the top team for years, and not a mention of South Africa. I'd say they are the team most likely to knock England off the top spot, not one of the subcontinent sides.

  • bumsonseats on August 16, 2011, 10:15 GMT

    india to win last test then all is forgiven, they can go home with heads held high. dpk

  • bumsonseats on August 16, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    at some point in time a country who is not playing test cricket at that precise time can be overtaken. i take it thats why england officially will not be # 1 till the series ends. that been the case SA could overtake england, when they are not playing test cricket.perhaps cricinfo could let us know when the list changes. is it after each series or are the times set by the icc. because as god made little apples we will findat some point in time this winter letters will arrive on here telling us that this team or that team are #1. dpk

  • blondblackberry on August 16, 2011, 9:32 GMT

    english friends u wil see what happens when u face a spinning,wearing wicket with no assistance for seamers.man ball will not swing after 10 overs.ur famed fast bowlers can't perform and these asian guys play spin very well that's the problem u may look what u say ab't india now.

  • sunglassesron on August 16, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    Chapelau:

    But we'll probably never have 11 players in form. Every team generally carries an out of form player and will be blooding at least 1 newcomer who is settling into test cricket. We only have one of each - Strauss and Morgan - which is good. I like Morgan - I like his temperament and attitude and he is defo worth sticking with imo. Good to have a cricketer who is like no other in the world imo.

  • Chapelau on August 16, 2011, 7:23 GMT

    @SRT the best - you are sorely mistaken to think England played anywhere near their best to beat an "over the hill" Indian side. Trott, Strauss, and initially Cook did not perform - morgan is a weak link and England had/have as many injuries as India. When England are at full strength and on form they will meet and beat anyone - whether on boring sub continent pitches or proper ones !

  • SRT_thebest on August 16, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    Can't Understand why the same people who said India became NO.1 side in tests because they played at home are so anxious to hand the No.1 tag to England. If rules are same for everybody then England too need to prove their No.1 tag in Sub continent and especially in Sri lanka where your Over rated bowling line up will know their true worth. THough no doubt India played ate their worst and england at their best but every one must not forget the advantage home conditions can give a team.

  • stalkonda on August 16, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    @Godfrey Pieters: I have no problems with all the things you had to say about your players and how they have been doing a better job then my players. But winning ONE series against an Indian side which has been having its share of fitness and lack of form issues gives you no BLOODY right to call them " a pathetic bunch". Remember even Bangladesh are TIGERS when playing in their own backyard, winning ONE series at your Home doesnot make You a champion side. If You come to India and win a series, I would then Hail you as THE Champion side. So zip it up and show some respect for the Team which was the World No 1 Test side and are the WORLD ODI CHAMPIONS !!

  • YorkshirePudding on August 16, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    Australia never lost thier "aura" they are still a very good test team, and we have to wait and see how bad they are in the test arena when they play the next series, just because a team is good at ODI's it doesnt translate into Test success.

  • rzi-BDML on August 16, 2011, 3:09 GMT

    Remember Pakistan's "INEXPERIENCED BATTING LINEUP" should some guts against SA last year. I agree that bowlers win the test matches, and Pakistan is never weak in this department even now when they are ranked very low in ICC ranking. Will be a good series to watch.

  • RandyOZ on August 16, 2011, 0:36 GMT

    @5wombats, while I agree with you that we certainly have not regained our aura, your pommy buddies must be starting to get nervous at the possibility of an Aussie revival because the comments from poms trying to defend England are flowing in our articles. Poms and Indians alike are certainly worried at the fact that, albeit in a so-called 'rebuilding phase' Australia has still managed to keep its #1 ranking in ODIs the whole time and has the systems in place to rebuild faster than anyone else! (without importing South Africans and Zimbabweans) @ landl47, again you blame you blame someone else (your selectors in this case) for Australia's wins, incredible.

  • on August 15, 2011, 21:20 GMT

    There is nothing special abt Strauss' captaincy. He has a very balance team, maybe the most balance in world cricket at the moment. Also a bunch of highly self motivated players. Jimmy enjoys taking the wicket of SRT. Broad saying I am better than short pitch bowling. Kevin proving he can play Yuvraj. Prior saying he is far better than MS & so on. The boys have pts to prove & collectively they r proving them, agst a pathetic bunch.

  • GoodGrief on August 15, 2011, 20:40 GMT

    At the end of the day bowlers win Test Matches, and for this reason I feel that Pakistan represent the toughest challenger from among the sub-continent nations. Just a shame that they can not actually play their home series at home. Sri Lanka will be hard to beat because they do have an outstanding batting side, but they lack a good attack so will also be hard to lose to. Surely by the time England gets to India half the side would have retired and I have seen nothing to suggest that any of their next generation have what it takes to be effective Test Match players.

  • 5wombats on August 15, 2011, 20:32 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster your posts continue to amaze; "Australia's performance in Sri Lanka so far awakens the old Aussie aura" - you're having a joke right? Aus have won 2 ODI's against Sri Lanka (SL IMO are a MUCH better TEST side than india) - 2 wins against SL and Aus have regained "aura". JOKE???? Have you not noticed England's aura lately? or is it just the lack of one from india that is bothering you? As for you @USSuperKing - yeah, whatever.

  • sachin_mumbai on August 15, 2011, 18:45 GMT

    I am so glad England is now the number 1 in the ICC cricket ranking....India is no more the weakest side to be number1....

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 15, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, of course, the real test is in Asia on spinning tracks. Different conditions suit different kinds of bowling. I didn't know that spinners are not an integral part of Cricket as much as pacers, if not more! Let me say it again, England are the deserving #1 and played like Champs. Now you can continue with your opinions that the real test is not in Asia. You guys can continue to be bred on one kind of monotonous pace wickets; are free to call spin friendly challenging wickets as dead flat runfest wickets and then try to make the rest of us mere mortals believe that's what cricket is. Amusing!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 15, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    @Nutcutlet, wow there you go. What all I'm saying is England played like Champs on pace tracks and let's see how they play on spin friendly tracks. Is that a sin Sir? I'm not a blinkered person to say that spin tracks are runfest tracks unlike some 'knowledgeable' people out here. There are different arts in bowling and there are different kinds of challenging tracks to bat on and then you have dead tracks like the one in Edgbaston. I can't help but laugh at the myth that is being spread that spin friendly tracks means dead flat runfest tracks. Criticism is part of cricket and yes Indians played pathetic cricket on the dead track at Edgbaston. As an England follower you just have to wait for England to silence us by succeeding on different kinds of tracks instead of calling spin tracks as dead flat runfest tracks. Hope this helps.

  • chapathishot on August 15, 2011, 16:43 GMT

    Against pakistan England have a chance not because their batsmen will do well against the pakistan bowling(will struggle against ajmal and co) but becuase of lack of experience in Pak batting .But it will be tough like SA found out .But Srilanka is totally different ball game ,they will struggle in both departments and swan will never be a factor.To have the taste of that they have the one day tour of India for starters

  • randikaayya on August 15, 2011, 16:11 GMT

    @tumbleweed: Have some grace and accept that England are the real deal in world cricket right now. I'm just glad that my SL team stood upto them in the early spring (except for one mad session in wet and chilly Rosebowl) and scored decently well. However England remain the form side in test cricket right now after beating Aussies, SL and India convincingly. You say that they won against a second rate Indian attack but that is not their problem really! If India can't find a decent first rate bowling lineup among a billion (and a half?) how come England have two world class lineups with a population of 22 million. Its time to accept defeat and plot a comeback mate, don't put your country to shame like Dhoni does after every defeat!

  • Valavan on August 15, 2011, 16:07 GMT

    INDIAN SUPPORTERS seems sour grape stories all the way. Before the toss, they speak about 5 - 0 for ODIs. if i remember correctly, after 1 - 0 win against SL, Indians thought it will be fair easy to dominate England, but they forgot that was dress rehearsal for England to upstage the arrogant Indians out of no.1 from tests. let the indian fans yawn about subcontinent, they rather won SL at home and saved a few series and call themselves like Aussies of 90s or windies of 80s.

  • on August 15, 2011, 15:31 GMT

    A general note on too many of the comments that have been made here. ODI cricket IS NOT test cricket, so please stop comparing performances in the two games as if they're part of the same thing. This is an article about being the number 1 TEST squad in world cricket, this has absolutely nothing to do with one day cricket which requires a different style and pace of play all round. Test cricket is the most prestigious and respected format of the game, do not draw non-existent parallels between this format and other formats lacking in relevance.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on August 15, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    Three - Nil !!!!! No question who's the better team of course, but can England make it a whitewash??

  • here2rock on August 15, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    Every team plays well at home, it will interesting to see how they go overseas. I expect them to fail on harder pitches.

  • mansi06042009 on August 15, 2011, 13:36 GMT

    really sad when we see player from india not upto mark in england.indian team looks like an OLD AGE HOME WITH LOT OF SICK PEOPLE WITH FAME OF PAST

  • Nutcutlet on August 15, 2011, 13:17 GMT

    I can't wait to see how England's Test side performs against Pakistan in the UAE (which is not the subcontinent anyway) and Sri-Lanka this winter! I am very optimistic that England can silence critics like David _G & USSuperKing who seem not to have a generous bone in their bodies, not having the grace or judgement to admit that this England side is something special and shows many positive signs of justifying their #1 status in the next few years, time and time again. Personally, I believe that only South Africa is within touching distance of England, but they do not have the reserves that England has in all departments. The real test may not lie in Asia at all - so much for all the hot air on that subject!

  • tumbleweed on August 15, 2011, 12:51 GMT

    Congrats England for getting to No 1. Obviously Flower has to announce these targets to keep his highly paid job. He also made such outrageous predictions before - Ashes, 2011 World Cup and No.1 Test Team. Result: Beat a depleted Aussie team, failed miserably in the 2011 WC and beat Sri Lanka by one Test out of three at home in soggy Cardiff and won three tests against India at home who had a second-rate bowling attack. Flower's flawed assumption is that while he is getting his team to imporve he thinks the other teams will stay static and won't improve. If you want real competition in Tests, it has to be a level playing field with all top test teams getting equal number of test matches. Not just England and Australia playing 5 tests and the others just two or three. We can then judge who are worthy of No 1 status. Posted by Tumbleweed

  • OliverWebber on August 15, 2011, 12:31 GMT

    How refreshing to hear such honest, down-to-earth comments from Andy Flower. No hint of arrogance or complacency. This is exactly what the England team needs to stand a chance of holding on to their well-earned, but precarious status. @shakkw: England played against Pakistani bowlers last year, and won 3-1, if you remember. Unfortunately some of the most talented members of that Pakistan side got caught up in the spot-fixing scandal, which was a terrible waste of talent.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 15, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    @patchmaster, if the tracks in the sub-continent are runfest, batsmen friendly dead wickets, then may be you should ask your batsmen why they don't have half decent averages on those so called dead runfest wickets.

  • on August 15, 2011, 10:48 GMT

    Andy Flower for England is like the most intelligent Greek General, Nestor, in siege of Troy. He is always serious about the task at hand and has shown it in his playing days too when zimbabwe has scared quite a lot of teams.

  • madras_boy on August 15, 2011, 10:44 GMT

    Don't forget the 2009 Ashes series Andy. Aus drubbed Eng 6-1 in the ODI series after the ashes win. Who knows India may win 5-0 !!!

  • Mehdi_shah on August 15, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    England deserve to be number 1 and i think that they will stay at the top for a while, SA might get close to them though. As for India, i think if they are to stand any chance for redemption and claim their no. 1 spot back, then they will need to look past the politics of the BCCI. Yes ' politics' it has always plagued Indian cricket. I mean how is it possible that in a country of 1 billion cricketers, there are no world class bowlers and/or fielders.-POLITICS! The good players dont even get a chance! My thoughts. HAPPY INDEPENDANCE DAY INDIA!!!

  • on August 15, 2011, 10:29 GMT

    england v indians have gone out down and lost no11 spot kkkkk now ur telling its ur turn k then here comes ur turn an away series with pak and the best team on home soil srilanka and ahome series at home aganist dale steyn and morne and indian odi series at home so we ll not have to wait too long know whether u people are really so called no1ssssssssssssss and saying bla bla by hussains and boycott i and bothams is far too easy than the above mentioned assingments far tooooooooooooo easy understand or realise in few space of time ha ha ha mouth watering thumbing of pons in show god pls make it fast ho ho ho i cant wait to hear and c reactins of english experts of so called mom a better cricketer boycs mate

  • SDHM on August 15, 2011, 9:50 GMT

    Cpt. Meanster - do you really think this England side wants it any other way? They want to be challenged, and for far when they have, they have risen to it like no other team seems to be able to at the moment; see Melbourne, Cardiff against Sri Lanka or the spot fixing scandal last year. Australia have not regained any aura - you could argue that in ODIs they never really lost it - so why should this side fear a team they've beaten three times in the last four series? South Africa have failed to beat England, India and Australia at home (and a weak Pakistan batting line up away), and India and Sri Lanka are in a transitional phase, so there is no one team to fear. No one's pretending it won't be tough this winter and onwards, but you better believe Flower and his team are looking forward to it.

  • Yabba on August 15, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    After Johannesburg and Perth - everyone said that England cannot win on bouncy pitches, now the Indian fans claim England cannot win on spinning pitches. How did we get to number one if we cannot win on so many types of deck? I'd back Swann against any other spinner in the world and our seamers are learning all the time how to get wickets in unfavourable conditions. Trott, Morgan and Bell are all excellent players of spin so no worries there either. The fitness of the players is also better than any other team. Only South Africa can give us a proper game at the moment.

    Another brilliant interview by Andy Flower. Always keeping focused on the next goal - so much better than Duncan Fletcher ever was...

  • allblue on August 15, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    @landl47 It's intriguing to wonder what was really going on behind the scenes in 2006, perhaps we'll find out in a few years when someone writes a book about it. My suspicion at the time was that appointing Flintoff was a marketing move. The ECB (and the media) had built the 'Cult of Freddie' and so the decision was made with one eye on the sponsors. It made no cricketing sense to pass over the man in possession, who had two season's experience as a County captain to someone who'd last captained as a schoolboy. In retrospect though, perhaps it was a good thing. The team was clearly divided then, with the Flintoff/Harmison camp seeing a tour as a bit of a lark with some cricket thrown in - turning up 'unfit' for training in the morning? Pedalos etc.! Trying to skipper that would have destroyed Strauss, it was better that he took over at the right time, because the defining characteristic of the Flower/Strauss set-up is the unity and strength of purpose of the whole team.

  • on August 15, 2011, 8:38 GMT

    Congratz England for achieveing world number 1 ranking..But you won most of the match in your dockyard and we(India) won overseas as well as home..I don't think England will long last in world No. 1 ranking...India will soon thrash England like how yuvraj had hit 6 sixes in an over against chindi Stuart broad...:)

  • on August 15, 2011, 8:29 GMT

    Congratz England for achieveing world number 1 ranking..But you won most of the match in your dockyard and we(India) won overseas as well as home..I don't think England will long last in world No. 1 ranking...India will soon thrash England like how yuvraj had hit 6 sixes in an over against chindi Stuart broad...:)

  • A_Yorkshire_Lad on August 15, 2011, 8:22 GMT

    @ussuperking - what's your problem , mate ? ' " Mr Andy Flower " ' ?? That IS his name , show some respect . For your information , the only ' ha ha ha ' in all this has been the performance of the Indian cricket team ! The joke's on you , my friend...

  • YorkshirePudding on August 15, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    I dont think this england team are going to expect to just turn up and win or get a drawn series like India have done over the last 18 months. As an England fan I expect, and want, other teams to provide a challenge not to just simply roll over and submit to a tummy tickle like India have done this series. I also dont believe that Flower and Strauss will allow that to happen, they most certainly wont get complacent no matter the opponents.

  • IvanPh on August 15, 2011, 7:46 GMT

    Sorry, Praveen - you need to use the ICC's rankings predictor. After the Oval India don't play Tests again until Boxing Day in Melbourne - 4 months. To overtake England they will have to win at the Oval and then win 4-0 in Australia. Can't see that happening. England will probably lose the number one crown quite quickly - but to South Africa - if they beat Australia 2-0 at home in November, they will only need to beat Sri Lanka 1-0 (out of 3) to take top spot. Even if England win at the Oval, SA will still go top if they can sweep their two home series.

  • Tjoeps on August 15, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    Well said Andy! Congratulations and all that! I think the ODI's against Indiƫ would also be a nice challence, now that the players have the self believe in their own abillity to fight hard! Nice to see that you are modist about the ranking, but this squad can go places, forsure! Goodluck! Hope to see you soon in Africa!

  • on August 15, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    there was not as pace and bounce as we saw in west indies,still India failed.the problem is overconfidence for sure.to be number one,one need to be ruthless and perfect.if England win 4-0 , i will admit they are the best.no batting friendly pitch in oval,plz.i want to see a wicket where ball didn't get low or slow,a single ball didn't turn in 5 days.good luck to be greats!!!

  • on August 15, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    Congrats England for becoming No.1 but the the bad news is it wont last long.India will regain their status as No.1 in just 3-5 months.

  • abhyudayj on August 15, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    @ elminzo- England won the series and become the no 1 side.they real test start on spinnig tracks,if they win their them are real no 1 side

  • s3ns3 on August 15, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    It's their bowling that has worked wonders on swinging and bouncy conditions. It will be next to impossible to win in SL.

  • on August 15, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    Zimbabwe has produced two outstanding coaches for England in recent times. Fletcher and Flower have both done immense jobs; without Fletcher I do not think Flower would have been able to do the job so quickly.

    I hope that one day, they have the opportunity to go back to Zimbabwe and bring that team back from the wilderness. England are proud of them and so should the people of Zimbabwe. Two outstanding individuals.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 15, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    England owe their ranking to Flower BIG TIME. Andy you better believe it, many people have already started to ready their weapons to knock your team off the perch. India will be no doubt one of them although they have a LOT of work to do before now and then. Australia's performance in Sri Lanka so far awakens the old Aussie aura, and SA are getting prepared for what will be an interesting winter. Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Asia/Sub-Continent are tough opponents. Then India in the spring of 2012. So be ready England, you have tough times ahead.

  • on August 15, 2011, 5:25 GMT

    well it was not surprising thing that England will not win the series.. India had not play much outside last 2 or 3 years.. and England had advantage.. everyone has their own day. this is same England lost against Ireland and Bangladesh in WC 11 and look today they are on the top. . Indian players were hopeless. they are playing like a club cricket match. this is not acceptable. they are no.1 and champions and consistent but India didn't show that.. my well wishes to both of teams for the rest of tour. .

  • vivekjagan on August 15, 2011, 3:59 GMT

    let england prove their mettle in srilanka and pakistan..if they win against subcontinent nations then they can truely be number 1.. even indians got their number 1 status by playing at home. england away series was oly ashes.they won many at home from 2009 ..they must prove outside england.. real test begins now for england.. come out strauss & co.

  • rahulcricket007 on August 15, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    i m an indian but i still think that pakistan has very good bowlers which can expose this england batting line up on flat pitches . if pakistan batting clicks in this test series then i can see pakistan will win easily against england . also sri lanka has very good spinners especially for strauss & pietersen . i think sl will again defeat eng . oh , i forgot the south african tour .last time sa beat eng in eng . however this time it will be a close contest as both teams has good bowlers . i hope sa win easily because thay have world's best coach .the weak indian team draw series in sl & sa and win in nz . but i can see eng will lose in sl, sa .

  • landl47 on August 15, 2011, 3:27 GMT

    Flower is, as always, realistic. It is hard to think back just 2 1/2 years to the mess England was in, with a captain who really didn't have any idea and a manager who had established no rapport with the side. The England selectors created the problem; Strauss captained the side against Pakistan in 2006 and was successful, winning 2-0 in the 3 tests played to a finish (plus the win when the umpires declared that Pakistan had forfeited the match, which I don't count). Although it was clear Strauss was a good captain, for some reason the selectors gave the Ashes captaincy to an inexperienced and unfit Flintoff, with predictable results, and then replaced him with Pietersen, with no captaincy experience at all. Finally they returned to Strauss, appointed Flower as coach and 2 1/2 years later England are #1. Had they continued with Strauss as captain in 2006, this would have happened sooner. Still, now England is there and with a squad that looks capable of winning for years to come.

  • notvery on August 15, 2011, 3:17 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas - "challenging tracks of the subcontinent" v "unidimensional pace friendly trakcs of England" so swing, bounce, pace, last for 5 days, taking spin on the 4th 5th ( we didnt see this much cos India didnt make the tests last that long) as apposed to low slow turning trancks from the 3rd over on the first morning.... yep them tracks in india are real good!

  • on August 15, 2011, 3:00 GMT

    England no 1 position is short one.In the long run England must won test series in the subcontinent.England test series win in India will never happen for more than 50 years.

  • Patchmaster on August 15, 2011, 2:47 GMT

    @ Dravid_Gravitsa - the sub continent pitches aren't 'challenging' there boring run fest pitches. ENG have just played IND on the best pitches in the world to play cricket i.e. pitches that test BOTH batsmen and bowler, hence why IND looked so ordinary.

  • on August 15, 2011, 2:40 GMT

    Comparing to Windies and Aussie at their peak already., comon guys.. They didnt even get the rank officially. Expect a reversal of the situaltion when they tour India with out of form batters and busy schedule. Hold your talks till then.. Revenge lies ahead and to grab the rank back with same treatment. Every one started saying india doesnt have the aura of No 1 team. Guys when at Top 1, all the teams feared of FAB 4. The name given by themselves. What more aura do you need. See this Eng team travelling abroad with their batters out of form.Their way to top is nothing but a comic. Most of the series in their back yard and their bowlers bowling on those pitches for ages. Come out and even Ireland tears them into pieces is the fact..

  • USSuperKing on August 15, 2011, 0:26 GMT

    ha ha ha...Good Joke "Mr. Andy Flower". We are gonna see, how your team will retain the No. 1 Team during your subcontinent series. You know onething..You can't even think about swing with seam in subcontinent pitches..You cant take a wickets just like that as you have done in ENG. One of the best subcontinent Team will definitely crush your team like anything. Hope you dont forget your team's world cup performances in subcontinent pitches...Either you are setting short goals or long term goals..doesnt matter...I will agree you are a No. 1 Team..if you win a single TEST match in sub continent pitches..Its a challenge man...You have shown your talents in your home pitches...Come to subcontinent..we are really waiting for that series...

  • thetopofoff on August 14, 2011, 23:57 GMT

    England are clearly the no 1 team at the moment. They have a quality pace attack and depth. India have niether. They have a squad of players all in their prime years, mid 20's to early to mid 30's, all experienced, confident and now winning. They are hungry and will be the No.1 team for the next few years. I think only Sout Africa and a resurgent Australia in time can challenge them over the next 3-5 years. I sense India are going backwards and when Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman retire, which surely will be soon, there will be a massive hole that will take a generation to fill.

  • sam_laker on August 14, 2011, 23:34 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas dead, flat, unidimensional tracks of England?? ha... ha.. ha.. very funny dude. So what do you call the tracks in sub continent, specially in India??

  • pom_don on August 14, 2011, 23:16 GMT

    What a sensible & grounded man Flower is I will support England (win or lose) as I have always done but regardless of results as long as they give the commitment & effort they have been doing for the last couple of years I will not only be just an England supporter but a very proud England supporter!

  • elminzo on August 14, 2011, 22:36 GMT

    Congratulations to England on their superb performance!!They outplayed India in every part of the game.They have the aura of a team which should be at the top.India never had that aura.There was always a lingering doubt in everybody's mind,including Indians....are they actually the number one team in the world? Congratulations on your number 1 ranking too!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 14, 2011, 22:11 GMT

    I would love to see England batsmen on the challenging tracks of the subcontinent now that we have seen them on the dead, flat, unidimensional pace friendly tracks of England.

  • rocket123 on August 14, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    Andy has been doing great job for Eng as a coach. He is realistic, down to earth and very thoughtful. I remember when he was a stawlart of Zimbabwe cricket and I always luved to watch him when he was batting. He played for a weak team but scored runs against good and threatening pace attacks. It was sad that he had to end his batting career due to unwarranted conditions then prevailing in Zim. He is leading the Eng team in the similar manner he used to lead Zim batting with his hardwork, dtermination and foucs. I am sure, with him as a coach Eng will become better and better and would perform well in the subcontinent. I have never seen English team playing as a unit. All the players know their roles and they give 200% to fulfill their defined roles on and off the field. I think Eng team has taken well to the leadership of Andy and Strauss though both do not seem to have a swagger like Llyod, Waugh, Ponting. But they r using their skills, attributes well in their own right.

  • shakkw on August 14, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    I would love to see England batsmen playing against Pakistani bowlers...that will be some contest for sure..

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  • shakkw on August 14, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    I would love to see England batsmen playing against Pakistani bowlers...that will be some contest for sure..

  • rocket123 on August 14, 2011, 21:42 GMT

    Andy has been doing great job for Eng as a coach. He is realistic, down to earth and very thoughtful. I remember when he was a stawlart of Zimbabwe cricket and I always luved to watch him when he was batting. He played for a weak team but scored runs against good and threatening pace attacks. It was sad that he had to end his batting career due to unwarranted conditions then prevailing in Zim. He is leading the Eng team in the similar manner he used to lead Zim batting with his hardwork, dtermination and foucs. I am sure, with him as a coach Eng will become better and better and would perform well in the subcontinent. I have never seen English team playing as a unit. All the players know their roles and they give 200% to fulfill their defined roles on and off the field. I think Eng team has taken well to the leadership of Andy and Strauss though both do not seem to have a swagger like Llyod, Waugh, Ponting. But they r using their skills, attributes well in their own right.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on August 14, 2011, 22:11 GMT

    I would love to see England batsmen on the challenging tracks of the subcontinent now that we have seen them on the dead, flat, unidimensional pace friendly tracks of England.

  • elminzo on August 14, 2011, 22:36 GMT

    Congratulations to England on their superb performance!!They outplayed India in every part of the game.They have the aura of a team which should be at the top.India never had that aura.There was always a lingering doubt in everybody's mind,including Indians....are they actually the number one team in the world? Congratulations on your number 1 ranking too!

  • pom_don on August 14, 2011, 23:16 GMT

    What a sensible & grounded man Flower is I will support England (win or lose) as I have always done but regardless of results as long as they give the commitment & effort they have been doing for the last couple of years I will not only be just an England supporter but a very proud England supporter!

  • sam_laker on August 14, 2011, 23:34 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas dead, flat, unidimensional tracks of England?? ha... ha.. ha.. very funny dude. So what do you call the tracks in sub continent, specially in India??

  • thetopofoff on August 14, 2011, 23:57 GMT

    England are clearly the no 1 team at the moment. They have a quality pace attack and depth. India have niether. They have a squad of players all in their prime years, mid 20's to early to mid 30's, all experienced, confident and now winning. They are hungry and will be the No.1 team for the next few years. I think only Sout Africa and a resurgent Australia in time can challenge them over the next 3-5 years. I sense India are going backwards and when Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman retire, which surely will be soon, there will be a massive hole that will take a generation to fill.

  • USSuperKing on August 15, 2011, 0:26 GMT

    ha ha ha...Good Joke "Mr. Andy Flower". We are gonna see, how your team will retain the No. 1 Team during your subcontinent series. You know onething..You can't even think about swing with seam in subcontinent pitches..You cant take a wickets just like that as you have done in ENG. One of the best subcontinent Team will definitely crush your team like anything. Hope you dont forget your team's world cup performances in subcontinent pitches...Either you are setting short goals or long term goals..doesnt matter...I will agree you are a No. 1 Team..if you win a single TEST match in sub continent pitches..Its a challenge man...You have shown your talents in your home pitches...Come to subcontinent..we are really waiting for that series...

  • on August 15, 2011, 2:40 GMT

    Comparing to Windies and Aussie at their peak already., comon guys.. They didnt even get the rank officially. Expect a reversal of the situaltion when they tour India with out of form batters and busy schedule. Hold your talks till then.. Revenge lies ahead and to grab the rank back with same treatment. Every one started saying india doesnt have the aura of No 1 team. Guys when at Top 1, all the teams feared of FAB 4. The name given by themselves. What more aura do you need. See this Eng team travelling abroad with their batters out of form.Their way to top is nothing but a comic. Most of the series in their back yard and their bowlers bowling on those pitches for ages. Come out and even Ireland tears them into pieces is the fact..

  • Patchmaster on August 15, 2011, 2:47 GMT

    @ Dravid_Gravitsa - the sub continent pitches aren't 'challenging' there boring run fest pitches. ENG have just played IND on the best pitches in the world to play cricket i.e. pitches that test BOTH batsmen and bowler, hence why IND looked so ordinary.