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England in Sri Lanka 2012

Flower keen to pass on lessons

Andrew McGlashan

April 8, 2012

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

Jonathan Trott walks off after being dismissed for 112, Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, Galle, 4th day, March 29, 2012
Jonathan Trott made the case for playing to your strengths © Getty Images

Andy Flower, the England team director, is keen to ensure lessons are learned on the team's recent overseas tours are not limited to the senior squad and get passed down the chain to younger players. Flower was boosted by the strides made by the batsmen in Sri Lanka as they fought back to level the series with a convincing eight-wicket win in Colombo following the whitewash against Pakistan in the UAE.

The success was set up by Kevin Pietersen's barnstorming 151 but Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Andrew Strauss all played important innings. But the revival was started by Trott in the second innings in Galle when his 112, although not able to prevent defeat, showed how batsmen can succeed by playing to their strengths.

England's other representative sides - the Lions and Under-19 team - also toured Asia over the last six months with mixed results. The Lions lost in Bangladesh but won in Sri Lanka, while the Under-19s were beaten 5-2 in a one-day series in Bangladesh. Flower wants all levels of the professional game to work together to improve England's cricket in these conditions.

"It is our job, not only to embed all those lessons but also to continue building on want we've learnt," Flower said. "We also need to pass on those lessons to younger English cricketers so that when they are playing international cricket they don't make the same mistakes as ours did this winter. I think that's quite important.

"It has been a tough winter but our focus has never wavered, our determination has never wavered and I think you would probably have see that best in the field. I think that was a good indication of where the group was. Yes it's been tough but it's brilliant to come back and level the series. It's a real pity that it's not a three-Test series - both Tests were excellent matches played on good pitches."

England almost left it too late to put in a complete batting performance and while Flower acknowledged it was a lengthy phase of trial and error, the end result has left him very hopeful of what can be achieved in the future.

"We all want instant results but the world doesn't work as easily as that but I do think it's exciting watching excellent cricketers still have the capacity to learn and improve themselves," he said. "I think good sides and good players have that capacity and are humble enough to open themselves up to new learning experiences. And I think we did see evidence of our guys learning in the second dig in Galle and out here."

Eoin Morgan was the one batsman to pay with his place after the Pakistan series and there will be focus on Ian Bell and Strauss when England resume action against West Indies in May. Bell has had a poor few months with just one half-century, in the first innings in Galle, to show as reward and his dismissal in Colombo - pulling a long hop to midwicket - was an inglorious way to finish.

Strauss, meanwhile, struck an important 61 to lay the foundation alongside Cook in Colombo but has now one Test hundred in 50 innings. From within the team there remains no doubt over his position - something reiterated by Flower - yet he could still do with a productive summer against West Indies and South Africa. Bell, too, will not be dropped although will need to convince the selectors that he has the game to succeed in India next winter with Flower insisting no one is immune to scrutiny.

Heading into the home season, No. 6 is the likely spot up for grabs if England revert to their regular balance of six batsmen, a keeper, three quicks and a spinner. Ravi Bopara was the spare batsman on the two recent tours after picking up a side strain in Sri Lanka being overlooked for Samit Patel.

"Not one player owns a position in the batting order," Flower said. "There's competition for all places. Of course some are more secure than others but I don't want to comment who'll bat at six against the West Indies as I need to talk to the selectors. We'll be having a selection meeting later this month and that's when we'll be discussing it in greater detail."

Neither would Flower be drawn on whether he thought the top six that played in Sri Lanka was the ideal combination for India at the end of the year. "I think it's a little early to say that this batting unit will be there at the end of the year, we don't know how things are going to pan out," he said. "Yes, this batting unit is good enough to score heavy runs in India but part of our job is to ensure it isn't a closed shop and if there are other players in England, we want them pushing the top seven here, constantly. That will drive our standards upwards."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 32 
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Posted by R on (April 10, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

@nutcutlet... yep, at last the scales are falling from some of the blind Bell supporters... IR Bell is THE weak link, he seems to always lack the mental fortitiude to ''do it'' when it matters. I've said it before. Possibly the message is starting to get thru, mainly thru IR Bell's own poor work. Cue a few easy (non-solus!) hundreds vs the WIndies followed by the usual lack of gumption vs Steyn (almost identical to Bopara so Ravi isn't the answer either). Shame Morgan is wasting his time in the blingy 20over IPL and not learning the above homework lessons with Gooch and Flower

Posted by John on (April 10, 2012, 2:43 GMT)

@maximum6, I agree with staggering the SC tours. I would say that at least one tour to a subcontinent destination every two years is essential if England want to develop consistency in those conditions. I know that there are many Pakistan fans, and some others, who hate hearing it said but I think that most England fans consider UAE to be different enough to English conditions and similar enough to real subcontinent conditions to be considered part of the group. The likelihood of England learning to play well in India and SL and not in UAE or the other way around is fairly slim. They will either learn to play spin in non-English-like conditions or they won't. Regular visits to the subcontinent and UAE (while required) will help to do that.

Posted by Martin on (April 10, 2012, 1:50 GMT)

@Giridharan Jagannathan on (April 09 2012, 08:03 AM GMT). Rubbish.

Posted by Michael on (April 9, 2012, 23:10 GMT)

I wonder sometimes whether England players don't sometimes overdo the hard work bit, and therefore are too keyed up at performance time. Sometimes relaxation isevery bit as good as practice. One of the problemms with playin in the subcontinent is that the fixtures are not staggered a bit more so that we play SL , Pak, and India away over 3 years not all within a 1 year period so that players remember a bit better how to do it. India too face this sort of problem getting all their non overseas tours within a year. Crazy overkill!!

Posted by John on (April 9, 2012, 18:56 GMT)

@360review on (April 09 2012, 08:01 AM GMT) The SL management also visited the umpire's room in the final test but I guess you missed that as opposed to being blinkered?

Posted by John on (April 9, 2012, 18:56 GMT)

@jimmy2s on (April 09 2012, 02:41 AM GMT) If England's batting line up are always that bad then why (pre Pak) did they go so long unbeaten inc away series in Aus and SA? And by the same token if Steyn,Philander and co were to have England in a "Cold Sweat" why are SA not blowing away all who are in front of them? I look forward to you response

Posted by John on (April 9, 2012, 18:56 GMT)

@bddhika_harindat on (April 08 2012, 23:10 PM GMT) Where has Flower said England will succeed in every match in the SC ? And by the same token re SL under scoring in the 2nd match , England did the same in the 1st inns in the 1st match so we could say that Eng should have won 2-0. SL in England. England dominated that series (a la SA/NZ) but in all likelihood the rain saved SL from a 3-0 defeat and but for England's exceptional bowling/SL's dismal batting (depending on how you want to see it) Eng should not have been able to win the test they did win

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 9, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

@360 he does mean teach kids how to play spin he was an excellent player of spin one of the very best ju8st because he was zimbabwean doesnt mean he was a rubbish batsman he averages over 50 in his test career

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 9, 2012, 16:38 GMT)

@jeremy 2 tons in 51 innings isnt too clever either nor is one in 27 strauss is clearly off form

Posted by Randolph on (April 9, 2012, 14:38 GMT)

2/75 in Barbados, so we are already well past the United XI's all out for 51 due to the mighty spin bowler Benn. haha.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Deputy Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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