India in England 2011 September 18, 2011

Flower wants England to retain hunger


Andy Flower, the England coach, has said the successful blooding of a new generation of cricketers in the recent one-day series against India will provide an extra incentive for his senior players in the Test team to build on the high standards they produced in their rise to the top of the world rankings.

Speaking in the aftermath of England's impressive six-wicket win in the fifth and final ODI in Cardiff - a result which handed them a comprehensive 3-0 scoreline - Flower reflected that the international season "couldn't have gone much better". Nevertheless, he warned of the dangers of self-satisfaction creeping into the squad's mentality, and said any player who dared to rest on his laurels risked paying for that attitude with his place.

"I am delighted with the way the summer has gone, but at the risk of repeating ourselves we don't just want to put our feet up and say, 'Gee, it's a lovely little time we have had together'," said Flower. "If people aren't hungry enough then I don't think they will keep up with the side. They will drop out or be dropped out.

"The hunger is very important because it drives you to train harder, it drives you to get out of bed early in the morning to go training. It drives you to do the extra work and to do your skills practice. To keep the weight off your body. It drives you to be inquisitive about maximising your potential.

"If there is any self-satisfaction or too much contentment it can take you into a dangerous place. Our philosophy is to look forward and at the challenges ahead as opposed to those behind us. If you do look behind you, you are not planning properly for the future."

The dramatic arrival of the 21-year-old Yorkshire batsman Jonny Bairstow is a case in point. His nerveless debut innings of 41 not out from 21 balls not only secured a notable victory in a stiff run-chase in Cardiff, it served notice of the talent challenging for regular places in the England team, and reminded those players currently on the sidelines - Eoin Morgan and Kevin Pietersen among them - that competition is healthy.

"I can't remember a debut like that," said Flower. "It was very clean and impressive hitting. Not many people can strike it as cleanly as that. Not many people are that talented. He should be very proud of his performance and it is great to make an impact in international cricket straightaway, but let's all keep level heads about it. Talk is cheap, but he did it with his actions, and he will continually be asked questions to repeat his performances out there in the middle when the pressure is on."

As Flower suggested, Bairstow's "innocence" at international level may have helped him to shrug off the pressures of the match situation, and play each of his 21 balls on its merits. Though he wouldn't be drawn on specific matters of selection ahead of the tour of India next month, Flower used an analogy from his own playing days with Zimbabwe to highlight the situation that England have now reached, with so many candidates pressing their claims for places in England's various teams.

"What it does re-emphasise to me is that opportunity is very important," said Flower. "When we were given Test status, I was a little skeptical that we deserved it as a Test-playing nation, but I thought, 'wow, what an opportunity'. I never thought I'd play international cricket. You've been given a chance, try to do something with it. These young guys have been given a chance and it's very interesting to see how they've done against similar opposition. I think that's been very informative for everyone and very exciting for the future of English cricket."

England's one-day campaign hasn't just been about Bairstow's performance. Steven Finn filled the void left by James Anderson and Stuart Broad in Cardiff with his best spell to date in one-day cricket, while Jade Dernbach has shown the potential to become a truly innovative bowler, even if he hasn't quite learned when to use his many slower-ball variations. Ravi Bopara overcame a torrid start to the series to produce key innings in each of the last three games, and Flower was delighted with the overall direction of his team.

"The guys have been grabbing their opportunities, which is outstanding," said Flower. "We have got a little bit of exposure into Ben Stokes - it has been exciting working with him - he is an exciting young player and a really good young man. Dernbach has got more exposure and experience against a really good one-day side, so a lot of good things have happened.

"We've won in difficult situations - it has been a really good series in that regard," added Flower. "We rested KP, we played Bell at No. 4, then through injuries other people have got chances. Finn, in the two chances we have given him, has been outstanding. His figures don't suggest so but he looked really exciting as a fast bowler and he is going to be an integral part of the England attack over the next few years. Bairstow last night got his one chance and grabbed it with both hands, and it was nice for Ravi to see it right through to the end last night."

On a personal note, Flower was adamant that his own hunger for the England job matches that which he expects of his charges, not least having witnessed the sort of potential that has been displayed in the past fortnight.

"I am excited," he said. "I have only been doing this job two-and-a-half years and a lot has happened - it is amazing how quickly things happen. When I was given the job I said I wanted to make a difference and I still hope that can occur in the next couple of years. I am very proud of the way the guys are performing and it is interesting to see how the three captains [approach] pans out.

"I am sure most coaches are the same - coaches or captains - you shouldn't need motivation to play for your country. There are plenty of reasons to be motivated. It is more about channeling that energy and making sure it is organised and making sure, as far as possible, individuals are maximising their potential. I don't think it is so much motivation - it is more how we manage that.

"The side is going to vary along the way but English cricket has good resources - both financial and human. There are proud cricketing nations out there that are just as hungry as us so it is going to be a good battle. We can achieve very good things. That was a very young side we had out there - Swann I assume was the oldest - so that is a very young side to beat India."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • david on September 19, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    to tell u the truth i will be happy when the 1 day series in india is over. then reason and common sense may prevail. im sick of when u come to india this will happen. i waited the see what would happen series before the current test and 1 dayers started and the 0 - 4 then 0 - 5. when i was a kid i used those comments u hit me and my big brother will get u. it will be nice to get back to a decent topic of conversation. dpk

  • Martin on September 19, 2011, 13:42 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding; dead right. Every time india lose there will always be an excuse; ball too round, bat too wooden, etc, you know the routine. It may not have occured to them that when their team lose - it's because the better team beat them.

  • Chris on September 19, 2011, 9:26 GMT

    @Nampally - nice to finally see a balanced comment from an India fan. My understanding was that Zaheer at least is still out for the return ODI series (I wouldn't put money on him being fit for the return Test series!)

  • Jason on September 19, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    @phoenixsteve, why waste your typing, everything that doesnt favour India is Biased according to some fans, be it Umpire, DRS, the weather, the pitches, the laws of the game.

  • RadhaKrishna on September 19, 2011, 8:13 GMT

    @nampally: i agree with you..and how did india lose matches is also clear..wet ball..ball not spinning, no swing movement, no seam movement..indian batsman were blasting sixes when there was seam and swing..and after that, rain during the batting of england..and england is best early to say..let us wait for 2 more years..and i am sure, by that time even indian team would have improved..again all the 5 nations would play tough cricket as 2015 world cup would be approaching..the team which would gel from late 2013 would be the contender for 2015 world cup

  • Dummy4 on September 19, 2011, 2:16 GMT

    Wait. It's too early to pass any judgment. Just a few good hits in the slog doesn't make a promising talent. Need to wait and watch at least a year to conclude if this young crop really has talent. By the way, England need to win at least 2 games in India to prove that they are a tough unit.

  • Steve on September 19, 2011, 0:41 GMT

    @Nampally and others.... As an England supporter I would of course argue that the DL method (and the great British weather) saved India from even more humiliation? The DL system is supposed to be fair though..... it's not something desiigned to be part of an anti Indian conspiracy!!! Get real people.. PLEASE in the name of CRICKET!!!

  • Ashok on September 18, 2011, 23:40 GMT

    @darrenh: I am an Indian fan and I am equally puzzled by India A,B & C teams. Officially there are no such designations. But the fans can use their imagination & make up what ever they want. To be honest it is futile to talk about the team performance in India even before the teams are announced.By winning 3-0, England has sent clear signal that India need a better bowling to win. Just by batting &without good bowling & fielding Indian cannot win irrespective of the Venue. The Big 5- Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir, Zaheer & Yuvraj are yet to declare their fitness.All 5 are out of shape and need to work really hard to get fit in time for ODI #1 .Dhoni, Kumar, Raina, Kohli, Rahane are all fit and hopefully will remain so.If the Big 5 & these 5 are in the squad, the last 5 will be bowlers like Ashwin/Harbhajan, Ojha, Rahul Sharma, Munaf patel & Ishant Sharma.My assessment of India B team is when the Big 5 are missing - Do other fans agree?.In India D/L will not decide the game as in England.

  • Darren on September 18, 2011, 22:35 GMT

    Just for the record my England "A" and "B" teams are as follows: A- Cook, Trott, Bell Pietersen, Morgan, Bopara, Patel, Kieswetter, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Dernbach, Anderson. B- Taylor , Hales, Bopara, Butler, Bairstow, Stokes, Woakes, Shahzad, Tredwell, Borthwick, Tremlett, Dernbach, Finn. I think the B team would have put up a creditable performance against the Indian team that just played (minus of course Dhoni, Raina, and Munaf).

  • Steve on September 18, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    The real difficulty in assessing just how good a performance England have shown this summer is the strength of the opposition? Are India so aweful or are England so good? The upcoming ODI series in India will answer something about the ODI side but in test cricket it's been England by a classy canter. All this is in the past now but things are looking much rosier for England supporters than they are for poor Indian fans! Add the impending retirement of VVS, Tendulkar and Dravid and it could be very dark days ahead? In the meantime England should go from strength to strength and an England win in next months series is quite likely but fairly irrelevant. All the England players and coaching staff have done the country proud with classy performances THANKYOU to messrs Flower/Gooch/Strauss/Cook and co....... Once again Cricket is the winner!

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