England in New Zealand 2012-13 March 3, 2013

Flower warns against Root hype


Andy Flower, the England team director, has cautioned against over-hyping Joe Root's early success at international level after his form prompted discussion as to whether he should immediately be promoted to open in Tests, and which of the established top order he could force out for the 2013 Champions Trophy.

With the new split coaching role that has Ashley Giles in charge of the limited-overs squads, Flower has not been around the team during Root's impressive run in India and New Zealand since the start of this year. However, Flower did see at first hand Root's Test debut in Nagpur, where he made 73 off 229 balls in the first innings to help England towards their series-clinching draw.

Root gave another composed display during England's warm-up match against the New Zealand XI in Queenstown - scoring 49 in the first innings and contributing useful overs during the three-wicket defeat - ahead of a series where he is penciled in to retain the No. 6 position he had in Nagpur.

Root has already been given tags ranging from the opener-in-waiting to a future England captain, so while acknowledging what he had achieved in the embryonic stage of his career, Flower hoped expectations would not become too inflated.

"You've got to remember Joe Root has played one Test match," he said. "I think everyone should keep a little calm about his prospects. No one knows exactly how he's going to do, not Joe and none of us.

"But he has handled himself very well in the international competition and the opportunities he's been given so far. We look forward to him having a very successful career, but he's got to take it one step at a time - as do all of us."

Another impact of Root's emergence has been to increase the pressure on Nick Compton. Debate continues about one of the few questionable places in the England Test line-up despite Compton's solid performances in India. He made only 21 and 1 against the New Zealand XI to be, along with Kevin Pietersen, the most short of time in the middle.

"I thought Nick played really well in India," Flower said. "He had some tricky situations to deal with there - some extreme subcontinent conditions, obviously the pressure of playing in India for the first time. I thought he did extremely well out there, without getting the huge score. He put on some really valuable partnerships with Cook.

"He missed out in this game, having spent a bit of time there in the first innings when the ball was darting around. He's a good player."

The England squad made the three-hour journey to Dunedin, the venue for the first Test, on Sunday but before leaving picture-perfect Queenstown, Flower also reflected on a performance against the New Zealand XI that was less pleasing on the eye than the backdrop.

In both innings the top order failed to impose itself - the first innings was guided by a pleasing performance from Ian Bell and Matt Prior boosted the second - and the pace bowling was less-than-convincing as the New Zealand XI lost just seven wickets in each innings, chasing down 334 on the final day with eight balls to spare.

"Winning is a great habit to keep, but they played pretty well and I thought we were a little sloppy in a few areas," Flower said. "But there were some good things to come out of that game. I thought Bell and Prior were excellent with the bat.

"The bowlers, after a poor first-innings display, all got better in the second innings. It's not ideal, losing. But the crux of the matter is the first Test is four days away, and that's when it will count.

"I think there was ring-rustiness there, without a doubt. That was obvious for all to see. The point of playing these games is to get ready for the first Test. It was an excellent game of cricket ... all in all, a very good outing for everyone."

No one was rustier than seamer Graham Onions who had a forgettable match, ending with figures of 1 for 213 from 38 overs, which means Stuart Broad is assured of a return to the Test team although, as ever, Flower would not confirm any selection decisions. Broad was the pick of England's quicks as he put his troublesome heel through a solid work out, maintaining good pace in multiple spells, and did not appear hindered at any point.

"I'm very pleased," Flower said. "His heel is obviously a worry to him and to us. But it reacted well to the number of overs he bowled, and he came through it well. He is fit and available for selection for the first Test."

Still, half of England's bowling attack in the first Test will be pushing bodies that are not in prime order. Along with Broad's heel there is Graeme Swann's elbow to monitor. He spent six overs off the field on the final day in Queenstown, when he sent down 20 overs in total, for what was termed 'routine' work on the elbow, which underwent surgery in 2009 and will remain a concern for the rest of Swann's career.

Swann will have an immense workload in the next 12 months - unlike the quicks he is unlikely to consistently have someone to share the burden - and 15 Tests between now and the end of the back-to-back Ashes, not to mention the Champions Trophy, could stretch his joint to breaking point.

"Inevitably, there are niggles - the stresses and strains that are put on their bodies mean there always are," Flower said. "But at the moment everyone is fine."

Flower was also confident that, despite the bowling attack struggling in the absence of James Anderson and Steven Finn, there were enough resources to cover whatever situations occur.

"We've got some very fine international bowlers. That's why we've had a lot of success recently. We're always conscious of the contingency plans in case some of our star bowlers get injured - and because of the nature of the job they do, they are going to get injured. I am confident that, if we do have injuries, we will have bowlers who can create pressure and chances."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anupam on March 4, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    My Test team will- Cook, Root, Trott, Bell, KP, Comton/ Suppiah, Prior, Swanny, Finn, Anderson, Onion. ODI Team- Hales, Cook, Lumb. Root, KP, Bell, Prior, Bresnan, Swann/tredwell, Finn, Anderson.

  • Anupam on March 4, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    @ Barry Glynn on (March 3, 2013, 23:26 GMT) No buddy I'm not Australian. I think Front Foot Lunge will explain about my comments - the world's best spinner. and YES is the answer of second question.

  • Jackie on March 4, 2013, 9:06 GMT

    Joe Root has done well but the media hype has been absurd. The problem is that most fans don't get the agenda behind the hype. The media want to squeeze Bairstow into the side, so someone has to go. The headlines were Root and Bairstow must play. So really moving up Root to replace Compton was to release the No 6 spot for Bairstow. Everyone surely knows that you don't open with a cricketer who has played 1 Test no matter how promising. You also don't drop a player who has done nothing wrong. Very poor message for the dressing room. You win games with team spirit not back stabbing. I hope the fuss won't upset Root. Too much praise is just as bad as too little. He's in the right spot for his development. Leave him alone. If we need another opener we'll attend to that problem. Compton has to face the media ready to pounce on every mistake just to prove a point. We know how biased they are. Perhaps he should talk to Bell for advice.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 4:50 GMT

    Root looks a fine player with shots around the ground. He proved in sub continent he plays spin well. Looks a different class to Patel for example. Root isn't a stone overweight for a start and bowls just as well as Patel. Root has youth on his side, Compton looks what he is, a steady county bat, nothing more.

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    @Robster1 With all respect, actually have a look at the stats before you go making comments on where Compton scores runs... you may want to reconsider your statement.

  • John on March 4, 2013, 0:15 GMT

    @landl47 on (March 3, 2013, 14:43 GMT), while I'd said a number of times that I thought that Bell could be a good opener in ODIs, I'd never given more than passing consideration to his opening in Tests but, if England found themselves in need of an opener, it might not be a bad idea. Moving to the top of the order has certainly revitalised his ODI career and, while Test cricket is a different kettle of fish, it might do the same there. His recent record shows that he's probably better at #3 than #5 and opening would be more akin to the former than the latter. I think that the extra responsibility might help him fulfil his considerable potential. We're a way off England having to make that decision though.

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    Cant believe people are calling for nick comptons head, look at how terribly the aussies are doing in India, they would love to have a nick compton in the side... The logical move would put compton at 6 and have root open with cook!

  • Dummy4 on March 3, 2013, 23:26 GMT

    ASK286, are you Australian? You say some of the worlds best spinners like Lyon , Dochertyand Maxwell". Are you having a laugh? Australia havent got any decent spinners, thats why they are being thrashed in India

  • Steven on March 3, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    @frontfootlunge. Your world beaters just lost to a NZ mix side. Your test side was playing that game. How do you suggest this side could compete with SA? Referring to the NZ mix side that just beat you.

  • ian on March 3, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    From what we've seen of Root, he is a batsman who reads the game well & plays in a manner approriate to the situation he finds himself coming into. He has the potential to open the innings where Yorks put him, yet the captain & Nick Compton have developed a good steady understanding through the series in India: no need to change that then at the moment. I do, however, see him as #3 where he can set the tone for the innings & see off the rest of the new ball, if that hasn't already been accomplished. (A #3 will sometimes find himself as a de facto opener anyway; IMO, the postion is more reserve opener than middle order) This raises the question of Trott who I would move to #5 with Bell #6, or vice-versa. Root is the future & putting him at first drop is an idea worth investigating v NZ. We are more likely to see more of him & certainly learn more about him if he's given #3 berth & this series, with respect to NZ, is the ideal opportunity.

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