Back to the drawing board - Flower
Andy Flower, the England team director, has said England will have to go "back to the drawing board" to figure out how to play one-day cricket in the subcontinent after they slumped to a 0-5 series defeat in India. Flower said he thought England were better prepared for this series than they were when they were beaten by the same scoreline in 2008 but had been proved wrong by the results.
"This is a bad setback for us and we have to go back to the drawing board in terms of playing one-day international cricket in the sub-continent," he said. "We need time to reflect. I thought we'd learnt lessons from three years ago and put in place training drills which would equip our batsmen to deal better with the conditions out here, but I'm obviously wrong in that regard."
England ended the series in dismal fashion, losing their whole side for 47 in a dramatic collapse, after they were 129 for 0 chasing 272 at Eden Gardens. Alastair Cook, the England captain, said good starts and poor finishes had been a common theme of England's performances through the series.
"We set up the game beautifully to go on and win, but they bowled well and we played a couple of poor shots. It was a bit of a disappointing end and a bit of a common theme," Cook said after the match in Kolkata. "We were in with a shout at 120-odd for nought and just got blown away at the end. It was very disappointing. We know you can lose wickets in clusters and we seem to have lost 10 there in a cluster."
While India's spinners sparked England's collapse, the victory had been set up by a fierce late onslaught from India's captain MS Dhoni, who finished on 75 not out off 69 balls. Dhoni scored 212 runs in the series without being dismissed. He said he always focused on staying unbeaten till the end of an innings because then you could sum up which bowlers to go after.
"I always want to stay to the end and whatever is in my area I look to hit it over the boundary," he said. "It's important to see which bowlers are left and who you can target. After that it's about who can bear the pressure well."
"It was an ugly looking wicket and any ball could swing or keep low," Dhoni said of the Eden Gardens pitch. "It was very difficult to score on so we were fortunate to score 270 when 240 or 245 was in our minds. Then we just had to wait for the wicket to spin."
Cook praised Dhoni's innings but said he thought India's total was gettable. "Credit to MS; at the end he hits it very well, he's a very hard person to bowl at and he single-handedly got them up to 270, which was probably gettable the way we started. But when you lose 10 for 50 you're not going to win anything," he said.
Both Cook and Flower, though, insisted there were positives to take out of the series despite the emphatic scoreline. "Only four of us have played one-day series out here and it's great for the youngsters to get the experience," Cook said. "It will show where they need to improve and we all need to improve as a side. We got thoroughly beaten out here but there are quite a few positives; I thought Steven Finn [who took eight wickets over the five games] throughout the series has been excellent."
Flower said the bowling department had shown promise but unfortunately the batsmen had not been able to handle playing spin and had left the bowlers with too much to do. "Our skills weren't good enough and our handling of the pressure wasn't good enough," he said. "We obviously haven't got the players into a good enough state to deal with the challenges of playing spin, judging length and moving feet.
"I think our bowling side has shown glimpses of skill and if there'd been reasonable totals on the board they would have been better at defending them. But unfortunately the bowlers have had to bowl to very attacking fields all the time because that was the only way to win because of our under-par totals."