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October 21, 2011
Andy Flower, the England team director, defended his players' on-field attitude, which has been a source of criticism on their tour of India, and also the approach of Jonathan Trott after another innings that divided opinion in their series-deciding defeat in Mohali.
Throughout the series the England players have been agitated in the field and there were further examples on Thursday as they failed to defend 298 in the third ODI. Tim Bresnan was fined for snatching his cap off the umpire after a frustrating over; and Craig Kieswetter's 'chat' behind the stumps has raised questions, especially because of his unconvincing performances with the gloves which included a dropped catch and missed run-out on Thursday.
Even within the team some players are not afraid of airing their views to team-mates when something goes wrong - with Graeme Swann often seen berating fielders - but Flower believes England have got the balance right and thought Bresnan's fine, although small, was unfair. That view backed up Bresnan's not-guilty plea that meant a hearing was required.
"Tim Bresnan is an outstanding young man with a very good disciplinary record," Flower said. "To be quite honest, I think in this instance it is a harsh judgement - in that it was quite a frustrating over for him.
"His snatching of a cap was done out of frustration at five overthrows and an edge down to the third-man boundary, as opposed to any dissent for a decision. I have no problem at all with Tim's behaviour. He has an outstanding conduct record. They've made their judgment, and whether or not we disagree with it is by the by. I think we all move on now."
The on-field chat hasn't just come from England and following the second one-dayer in Delhi the match-referee, Roshan Mahanama, spoke to both captains about the conduct of their teams. Following the match in Mohali, Dhoni said England might need to change their strategy of verbal intimidation considering it had not worked in their favour.
Again, though, Flower believes that England have shown acceptable emotions when in the heat of battle and that disappointment can be misunderstood as anger. "Every sportsman has to consider that balance, and in the main I think our cricketers are excellent role-models and conduct themselves in the way that passionate English sportspeople should do.
"The match-referee, after the second one-day international, spoke to both captains about the conduct of both sides - and I think he was right to do that. I think in that second game there was too much 'talk' out in the middle. After all, we play the game as a game of skill and you're there to 'out-skill' your opponents.
"Yes, there is a difference between passion and poor conduct and, on almost all occasions, I think our guys are excellent at finding that balance."
Flower was also fully supportive of the innings played by Trott who made an unbeaten 98 off 116 balls to anchor England's total in Mohali. Kevin Pietersen and Samit Patel, with a career-best 70 off 43 deliveries, played more aggressive hands in partnership with Trott and Flower thought the balance was right, pointing out the career-record of Mahela Jayawardene as a comparison to Trott's figures.
"Since he started playing one-day cricket for England, he has been very consistent - and that consistency has helped us score bigger totals. I think, if anything, some of the players around him have under-performed with the bat, and I think he's playing good cricket. Until a better player comes along, Jonathan Trott will play."
England are now focused on avoiding a 5-0 whitewash which would match the scoreline from the 2008 series when the final two matches were cancelled due to the Mumbai terror attacks. England's next attempt to secure a win will come in Mumbai, the first time they have visited the city for an international since 2006.
Graham Onions, who replaced the injured Chris Woakes, has linked up the with the squad and will provide a fast-bowling option alongside the uncapped Stuart Meaker if the management want to leave out the struggling Jade Dernbach.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur