England in India 2012-13 November 20, 2012

Flower admits selection errors


Andy Flower has admitted that England made a mistake in not selecting Monty Panesar for the first Test of the series against India at Ahmedabad. England lost the Test by nine wickets after conceding a first innings deficit of 330 with Flower, the England team director, also conceding that he misread the pitch.

But Flower declined to confirm that England would alter the balance of their attack for the second Test, which begins in Mumbai on Friday. While he conceded that England's seamers had been out-performed by their Indian counterparts in Ahmedabad, he said the England team management will inspect the pitch before any selection decision is made. As things stand, Flower expects Mumbai to offer more assistance to the seamers and would only confirm that England would bring in a batsman to replace Ian Bell, who is absent on paternity leave.

"With hindsight yes, it was a mistake not to play Panesar in Ahmedabad," Flower said. "I didn't expect that pitch to turn as early as it did. In fact, once we saw it turning early in the game I thought it might deteriorate more and I was surprised on day four and five how well it played. I certainly misjudged that pitch.

"There might be a little more bounce in Mumbai which will help our seamers. Of course we have to bring in a batsman, but on any other changes I'd like to see the pitch first. Then I'll try to make a better judgment than the last one. If it looks as though it will turn a lot, we will contemplate two spinners.

"I don't think our seamers bowled as well as they could have and the skill with reverse swing and finding the right length to hit the pads is a particular skill. I think India did that better than we did. Their seamers out-bowled our seamers, but I also think we gave them a couple of soft dismissals."

England's attempts to square the series in Mumbai have been dealt a severe blow with the news that Steven Finn will not be fit to play in the second Test. Indeed, Finn undergoes a scan on Tuesday that will define whether he had any further part to play on the tour. Stuart Meaker, who was called into the squad when Finn was injured in the first warm-up game, will remain with them rather than joining the England Performance Programme squad.

"This will not go down as one of his memorable Tests but he's got three more to contribute to winning games for England."
Andy Flower sanguine about Kevin Pietersen's form

"Finn unfortunately hurt that same area of his thigh and he's having a scan," Flower said. "We don't think there's any structural damage, we need to check. If there is not he will go and join our performance programme. He'll rehab with them and they've got a three-day game starting on the 27th which is the last day of this Test. Hopefully we can get him in that and test him out and if he comes through well he'll be available for the third Test."

Flower conceded there was an air of predictability about England's troubles in India but, despite the side now having lost five out of six Tests in Asian conditions this year, said "he would like to think" there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the team or the team set-up. Instead he felt that the batsmen, in particular, were guilty of simple errors. He did not condemn India's decision to deny them quality spin bowling in the warm-up matches, though he did jokingly suggest that England would be unlikely to respond by providing only spin bowlers for India in their warm-up games on their next tour of England.

"We have to overturn what seems predictable the moment," he said. "There are some very basic things that we haven't done well enough and I hope I'm not making personal excuses here. I don't think it's anything to do with the environment, or team dynamics, or the way we train. I think that we have failed in a number of first innings and if you do that in the subcontinent you pay the price. That's the area where we have failed and I don't think we should over-complicate it. I hope there is no real reason why it should keep happening in the first innings.

"If we'd batted in the first innings like we batted in the second it might have been a different story. Those three wickets hurt us at the end of day two, obviously, and the ball turned quite sharply and quite quickly in that first innings. And there were a few soft dismissals which cost us."

Flower was keen to defend Kevin Pietersen, who, in his first Test since his recall, scored 19 runs in two innings and was twice dismissed by the left-arm spin of Pragyan Ojha, but Flower stressed the excellence of his long-term record.

"Look, Kevin's a very fine cricketer and he has 21 Test centuries," Flower said. "This will not go down as one of his memorable Tests, of course, but he's got three more Tests to contribute to winning games for England.

"In this last Test the left-arm spinner got him out twice and he obviously struggled against him. But, only a few Tests ago against Sri Lanka, he scored a magnificent 150 and they had a reasonable left-arm spinner playing in subcontinent conditions. The method he used there was a very successful one. I'm not just talking about his very attacking method but his defensive one too. He's a very experienced cricketer and I trust he'll bring that experience to bear in the next Test match."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on November 22, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    @landl47 on (November 21 2012, 12:59 PM GMT) Indeed - very poor from our middle order but having a 500+ score in front of you also creates scoreboard pressure and we're never going to win much if the other side scores 500 1st off

    @Rogerunionjack on (November 21 2012, 08:07 AM GMT) Always a fan of 5 bowlers but we're possibly in the situation where we need 5 bowlers to stand much chance of bowling India out twice in enough time to win the game but I sometimes get the impression these days that we'd (Flower/team selectors) would rather the series 1 or 2-0 than risk a hammering in trying to level/win the series. On hindsight it may have been nice to have seen another spinner in the squad and have a 5 man attack with 3 spinners in it.

  • moginraj on November 21, 2012, 15:28 GMT

    @ Jose Puliampatta.... u make good points esp about the WK thing, the rest i slightly disagree...

    1. while cook and prior showed great courage, so did IND bowlers to get wickets on a slow low, do nothing pitch.... so ind were in a situation where previously this would prob hve been a draw, so i think they showed immense mettle too...

    2. time for dhoni to get out of tests, i agree

    3. ENG not giving excuses?, you need to try to understand how the excuse is given, its not outright like in india, its just much more subtle....

  • Philip on November 21, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    @stormy16 I agree with you and see through Andy Flower's hogwash about misreading the pitch. Panesar should have played in the first Test and must play in the second. He is a fine spin bowler, and all this talk of how England are balanced only when Number 11 can also score runs is just clouding the issue. Many of the greatest bowlers in the world were poor batsmen, some poorer than Panesar. Just think of Courtney Walsh, Lance Gibbs and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar.

  • Mark on November 21, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    Well, the Mumbai pitch is one that was used recently and is worn. It must raise the prospect of England playing Monty, Swann and Samit. So, if England pick only 2 seamers, who are they going to be???

  • Mark on November 21, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    @Paul Rone-Clarke, totally agree. Broad was clearly not match fit. His decline has been alarming, particularly on the batting side: 2009, 47 wickets @ 28.4, 431 runs @ 25.4; 2010, 26 wicket @ 37.7, 292 runs @ 24.3 (incl. 169 v Pak); 33 wickets @ 22.3, 239 runs @ 39.8; 2012, 40 wickets @ 30.2, 271 runs @ 18.1. On the bowling side he has varied between mediocre and very good. This year has tended too much to mediocre, sulking when things go against him. At his best he is quick, gets bounce and is uncomplicated. He needs to run in hard at the Indian batsmen and push the ball through on a good length, using the bouncer as an occasional variation.

  • John on November 21, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    When nos. 3-6 make 68 runs between them in 8 completed knocks, you're going to lose almost every test you play. Cook and Prior were the top scorers in both innings and their excellent stand in the second innings masked the inadequacy of the other batsmen. I only saw the second innings, but England were caught far too often simply misreading ordinary balls. I'm not sure why Flower is giving KP a pass- that second innings dismissal was appalling.

  • I on November 21, 2012, 12:58 GMT

    Oddly similar to the Pakistan series in the UAE where they played one spinner in first test and included Monty in the second 2. A case of not learning from mistakes? Monty out-bowled Swann comprehensively in the 2 tests that he played in that series.

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    If I was paying someone £100s of thousands per annum, I would expect them to be able to do the job. If they weren't performing consistently well, but I believed they had potential and talent, I would provide training and give them some time to gain experience. If they still didn't produce the goods, then I would be mad not to replace them. This is a reality faced by employers and employees all over the world. Time to see if Bairstow, Root and Morgan can do better than Trott, Bell and Peitersen. There's nothing to lose!! And if the supposed quicks can't adapt to bowl full and fast to a field to match, then time to replace some of them too. Sick and tired of watching highly paid professionals do unintelligent things on and off the field. By the way England, dark glasses don't help you take catches (you would bat in them if they improved vision) and ionic bracelets don't make you anything except a fashion victim wally.

  • T on November 21, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    Andy is honest enough to admit his mistake. But at the same time he was foolish enough to have made it in the fist place, and stubborn enough to suggest that Monty is not an automatic selection for Bombay test.

  • Dummy4 on November 21, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    There were THREE areas, where England was far superior to India in the Ahmedabad test:

    1. Fighting spirit displayed by them in the second innings, especially by Cook, Prior & Compton (After VVS's retirement, I wonder whether we will see that coming from India in the near future. One Pujara alone can NOT do it)

    2. The WK-Batsman. Performance of Prior, both before the wicket and behind the wicket (Behind the wicket he also committed a few errors; but far less & less significant errors than Dhoni's)

    3. England's attitude of NOT giving any excuses for their poor show..

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