England in India 2012-13 December 17, 2012

Flower proud of England's revival


An ability to "learn and adapt" has been identified by Andy Flower as the key to England's series success victory in India. By drawing the final Test in Nagpur, England secured their first series win in India since 1984-85 and inflicted a first home series defeat upon India since 2004.

It was a far cry from the events in the UAE a few months earlier. At that time, as England succumbed to a 3-0 series defeat against Pakistan, England's batsmen had no answer to the spin threat of Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman.

But Flower, the England team director, took particular satisfaction from the way his team had accepted their failings in the UAE and worked to improve. He also admitted that an element of complacency may have crept into the squad after they had reached the No.1 Test ranking at the end of 2011.

"I don't know if lost focus is quite the right phrase to use," Flower said, "but if there are degrees of hunger and desire perhaps we dropped off a couple after getting to No 1.

"We had a tough time in the UAE against Pakistan at the start of the year, and one of the most satisfying things at the minute - certainly for me, and I'm sure for the players - is that they've shown they can score runs. We've come out here and very importantly shown that this bunch of cricketers can learn and adapt.

"They have proved they have learned a lot. For some of the older players, guys that have been around and have excellent Test career achievement, that is testament to their humility and their maturity to continue their learning into this phase of their careers. They have still adapted their game and shown their game can improve. It's taken a lot of hard work, a lot of thought and a lot of skill out there in the middle. They should be very proud of themselves.

"We certainly refocused on this challenge in India. We knew we would have to display that we have learned certain things about the game of cricket in these conditions if we were to prevail so it's nice to see that has happened. I certainly wouldn't describe it as a year of decline."

Flower credited Alastair Cook as a key figure in England's success. Cook, the England captain, led from the front with a defiant century in defeat in Ahmedabad that showed his team what could be achieved with patience and composure. While Cook also made centuries in Mumbai and Kolkata, an increasing number of his team-mates contributed decisive performances as the series progressed.

"That innings at Ahmedabad was vitally important as a lead," Flower said. "It provided evidence that runs could be scored if you use your brain, if you've got a reasonable method, if you show courage and discipline. He did that and for the captain to do that was especially important. He has been very influential in the series. We are very lucky to follow a quality bloke like Andrew Strauss with a quality bloke like Alastair Cook as leaders of the England side.

"I said to him I thought tactically he has been excellent - and you can't always say that about English sides in the sub-continent. I think he's been a good observer of the opposition, and what works for them, and he's used some of that to our advantage."

There was also praise for Kevin Pietersen who returned to the squad for this series having been dropped following revelations about his poor relationship with his England team-mates. Pietersen started nervously, but made a brilliant century at Mumbai which helped alter the direction of the series.

"He has been excellent since he has been back with the England side," Flower said. "The guys have enjoyed having him around and he has fitted in really easily and everyone has made an effort to make it work. It has worked.

"He has played superbly. I thought his innings in Mumbai on a difficult, turning track was one of the better innings I have seen played against spinners in those type of conditions. It was a very, very skilful innings; even more skilful after he had struggled in the first Test because that piled a certain amount of pressure on him. So for him to handle that pressure, turn it round and then dominate the opposition as he did was great testament to him holding his nerve."

While the victory provided a happy ending to a difficult year, Flower was keen to stress that there had been other positive achievements among the disappointments.

"We've had up-and-down results," he said. "We didn't play that well against the spin in the UAE, but we've also done some superb things.

"We became number one in one-day international cricket; we drew an important Test series in Sri Lanka, and won one against the West Indies. And then we lost to a very good South African side in England. I don't think there is any embarrassment in that. That happens in international sport."

Flower is now taking a break. While England return to T20 action on Thursday, Flower will be back in the UK with his family having relinquished his day-to-day involvement with England's limited-overs squads. Ashley Giles starts in the role of England's limited-overs coach in the New Year.

But it would be incorrect to conclude that Flower is not still the man in charge in all formats of the game. The idea is that Giles will bring new energy to the limited-overs teams, allowing Flower to remain fresh and to spend more time with his family. Certainly he is still planning for challenges ahead in all formats, with the Champions Trophy, to be played in England in 2013, a particular target.

"I do have a young family and they have supported me amazingly well over my playing and coaching career and it is time for me to make sure that I can give a little more time to them," Flower said. "The purpose of the move is to make us a more efficient organisation and to use our resources as wisely as possible so certainly that will assist me to remain involved with the English side.

"Ashley Giles is a smart cricket coach with very good experience of both coaching and playing and I think he can do a very good job with the limited-overs sides. We hope he can take the limited-overs teams forward. We don't know if the system is going to work ideally, just like we didn't when we introduced three different captains for the three different facets of cricket that we play. But our job is to make it work.

"It is going to be a busy year. We've got the Champions Trophy - one of our priorities - happening in England and we'll have a chance there. Then there's the two Ashes series in the second half of the year. That's going to be some tough, sustained cricket. But we've shown out here that we can play that type of cricket, and that we learn to survive in different conditions."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sharon on December 20, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    @ jonesy2 on (December 18 2012, 12:10 PM GMT) Ha ha ha... you always bring a smile to my face. The rain is here is east Africa but I am smiling. Thank you @jonesy2.

  • j on December 20, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    What a shocking month for England's critics - Anderson confirmed as the best flat-deck/green-top bowler in the world, No doubt about Cook being best Test Opener (Yippee!) and Swann's twenty wickets whilst turning the ball more than anyone else in the world slams his critics into silence. Whose that seamer the Aussies have who pretends to be a spinner? Such a hilarious comparison when you think about it, too funny for words. :)

  • Mark on December 19, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    @Heart_of_Oak Most of us would have liked to see Stuart Meaker play in the 2nd and 4th Tests. I defended picking Bresnan for the 4th Test after it was made clear that Meaker would not be considered, as it was Bresnan or Onions (there was no one else available) and I thought that Bresnan was more likely to get help as a reverse swing specialist; morever, Onions had been poor in his limited opportunities in the UAE and in the warm-ups in India. My impression was that Bresnan did not bowl badly in the 4th Test and he was getting close to 90mph with his fastest deliveries. Picking Broad for the 2nd Test was though almost indefensible and, even for the 1st Test I was deeply unhappy as he had, unlike Bresnan, done almost no bowling in the warm-ups and I expected him to be far short of match fitness.

  • Ian on December 19, 2012, 11:36 GMT

    Shan156 and Chris Ward are absolutely right. We (England) are carrying "passengers" because of past reputation rather than current form and our selection needs to be based on form, fitness and suitability for conditions. I've questioned Bresnan's selection a couple of times on this Indian tour. I just don't think he's suited to Indian conditions. But in England, he has performed extremely well, contributing late order runs and taking key wickets. Patel played too many games when others around him were showing themselves to be more effective than he. Let's take nothing away from a great achievement by the lads. However, selection policy needs to be looked at. I hope Flower does not become another Martin Johnson.

  • Omar on December 19, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    Well done England. You have shown how it should be done; work ethic, team spirit, application far from home. Bravo. India needs to learn many lessons from this performance.

  • Dummy4 on December 19, 2012, 4:36 GMT

    While England were excellent I think that India, particularly their bowling attack, was poor. While the series against Pakistan could easily have been just 1-2 or even 2-1 England, Pakistan are a far better side than India in terms of bowling (and their batting is growing in strength). England's greatest asset is that they continue to learn and don't offer excuses like India continually do. The back to back Ashes series should be absolutely amazing - Australia are getting better and England are confident again. I fully expect us to smash New Zealand with the likes of Anderson and Cook having a field day but Australia, particularly away, will be far harder and could prove to be one of the best series ever as the teams are fairly evenly matched this time around. I for one can't wait.

  • John on December 19, 2012, 3:26 GMT

    @Nazir Bakhshi on (December 18 2012, 12:52 PM GMT), that's a ridiculous comment and it's exactly that sort of attitude that will hold Indian cricket back from improving. India did not lose the series because England didn't chase a win on that terrible Nagpur pitch. It was India who needed to do all the running and, if anyone "got sissy", it was them. Did you see that first hour on day 4? They poked and prodded and Ashwin turned down runs and then when they actually scored a few off one over Dhoni declares. Trott scored at a significantly faster rate in the second innings than Dhoni or Kohli had in the first and Bell also scored faster than Kohli. If the India team choose to take that same perspective on this game then they will continue to get pounded the world over.

  • Shanmugam on December 19, 2012, 1:41 GMT

    @landl47 on (December 18 2012, 06:29 AM GMT), amen. Bresnan and Broad have done poorly this year. Broad, despite taking a lot of wickets this year, has gone amiss when he was needed. And his batting is poor. Bresnan is worse. Bell will now keep his place for the foreseeable future considering that he made a ton in the 2nd innings in a lifeless pitch in Nagpur. If England want to improve, they need to be ruthless and drop some passengers.

  • Shanmugam on December 19, 2012, 1:36 GMT

    @Seamer_Singh, what about Swann then? If finishing the series as the highest wicket taker (20@24.75 and as an added bonus a batting average of 32.66) is below average, then your standards are way too high, I am afraid. This is a country where even Warne and Murali have struggled and they are way superior to any England spinner including Swann. Still Swann used whatever talent he has to the maximum and got the rewards. And, what about Prior who played crucial innings and finished the series with a batting average of 51.6 and also did a good job behind the stumps. Trott didn't start well but worked hard at his game and made good contributions in the last 2 tests. India are not a bad side, England simply made them look mediocre. Same with Anderson. He didn't have the best of 2 tests where spinners dominated but came into his own in the last 2. Finn and Root impressed in the one test they played. And, England's fielding and fitness were way superior to India's.

  • Jon on December 18, 2012, 21:59 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge- come on mate ease up a little. India are going through a transitional phase in world cricket and are undeniably finding it difficult to replace the likes of Dravid, VVS and Sachin (of old). I am delighted with our performance in this series but the key is now for our guys to keep their head down and continue to work hard. I am still worried about our seam attack as I have not seen it dominate since the India tour to England. I think Bres/Broad are too slow for test cricket and I hope that Tremlett will be fit soon. I think in many ways the NZ series may be difficult as a lack of motivation may kick in and we could come unstuck. I have a feeling we will win the Ashes comfortably but am still not convinced about what our best line up is. As for India some of their fans deserve this defeat for trolling any English forum in 2012 to express their desire for revenge and to expect a 4-0 whitewash and so on. However many Indian fans have been congratulatory and learned.

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