Pakistan v England 2011-12 January 29, 2012

The wake-up call no one wanted - Flower

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Andy Flower, condemned to his first Test series defeat since he took up the England coaching job on a permanent basis, has described their loss to Pakistan in the UAE as "the wake-up call no one wanted to get."

Flower laid the responsibility for the two heavy defeats in Dubai and Abu Dhabi squarely at the feet of England's batsmen and urged them to "face up to facts" and show "courage" in confronting their issues with high-quality spin bowling.

England's dramatic collapse in the second Test, when they were dismissed for 72 in pursuit of a target of 145, leaves them in danger of conceding their No. 1 Test ranking to South Africa if they do not win the final Test in Dubai. A 2-0 or 3-0 defeat, coupled with a 3-0 win for South Africa in New Zealand in March, would be enough for South Africa to take the top spot.

Their long-standing reputation as strugglers in Asian conditions has also been painfully confirmed. In 19 Tests in India, Pakistan, Sri lanka and now the Gulf since winning in Sri Lanka in 2001, England have lost nine, drawn nine and won one - and a sixth series defeat in seven is now inevitable.

"This is a great challenge for all of us," Flower said. "We've got another Test, a one-day series, a couple of Twenty20 games and then we've also got Test series in Sri Lanka and India before the year is out. So these issues will not disappear and we've got to face them with skill and a bit of courage. We've got to be a lot better than we were yesterday. Each individual will have to work very hard in working out his method of scoring.

"Yesterday was tough watching for anyone who loves England cricket. The guys played some really good cricket to get us into that position to chase a total of 145 to win a Test. It is exactly the sort of position you want to be in. But then we weren't good enough to deal with their spinners; we weren't skilful enough and we didn't deal with the pressure well enough. We have to face up to those facts.

Chasing a target of just 145, England's passive approach - Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook laboured for 15 overs in scoring 21 - allowed Pakistan's spin bowlers to build pressure on the batsmen and rendered them close to strokeless at times.

"They made familiar mistakes," Flower said. "We need our batsmen to learn. We didn't put any pressure on their bowlers in the second innings. We allowed them to bowl and create pressure. The conditions to play against quality spinners were difficult and we weren't good enough. We realise that we haven't been very skilful in dealing with that type of cricket.

As demands sounded for changes in the third Test, with the Essex batsman Ravi Bopara looking certain to be given an opportunity, Flower said that he would not be afraid to drop players if necessary.

"Continuity of selection has been part of our strength but very obviously we have to pick players who are most adept at dealing with these conditions," Flower said. "That is what we tried to do. We have lost the series now and of course we have to go into this third Test and pick what we think is the best XI to try and win the game. If that means making a change here and there, then we won't be afraid to do that."

Flower was keen to credit those England players who had enjoyed a good game and the excellent performance of the Pakistan team.

"Maybe we dropped a couple of catches in that first innings that were quite important, but other than that the bowlers and fielders were outstanding and Monty Panesar was great in his comeback game. Jonathan Trott and Alastair Cook were outstanding in that partnership of 139. Stuart Broad was outstanding; he played an aggressive, courageous knock to give us the lead - that was a match-turning performance from him both with ball and bat.

"It's also right to praise the Pakistan team for what they have done. They beat us fair and square. They have beaten us properly in two matches. They have fought hard and worked hard at their game and in a way I'm very happy for them. It's good for their cricket and it's good for their country."

With all the attention falling on an underperforming batting line-up, England have decided not to send for a replacement for the injured seam bowler, Chris Tremlett. Instead the England management have reasoned that the Lions players in contention will gain more benefit from match practice on their tour of Sri Lanka and that, with the likes of Steven Finn and Graham Onions already with the senior squad, England have most bases covered.

England have delayed the announcement of their squad for the limited-overs section of this tour until the end of the third Test. It remains unclear whether Tim Bresnan, who has returned to bowling in England, will have sufficiently recovered from his elbow surgery to warrant selection.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RandyOZ on January 31, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    Andy flower is a terrible coach and england a terrible team. He only got it due to the southern african effect.

  • RandyOZ on January 31, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    England and cricket shouldnt be put in the same sentence. a. they cant play it and b. they arent even english.

  • LastLaugh_PK on January 31, 2012, 18:31 GMT

    What bothers me the most is why are all these Indians rejoicing over OUR victories. I'm sorry but we don't wont to share our hardwork with you and we fight our own battles not for anyone else. You want to show the world that you are better than England then beat them yourselves not through us.

  • JG2704 on January 31, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    @Herbet on (January 30 2012, 13:01 PM GMT) Re your comms re the initial runrate. If a batting side knows that batting will become easier after seeing off earlier conditions/new ball or whatever then fair play, But on this occasion I reckon the pitch was only going to get harder to play on and it set the tone for the whole innings , obviously the Pak bowlers bowled superbly but I feel the England batsmen were at leat part responsible.I may also be the only guy who's not 100% convinced by Taylor.Maybe because I've only watched him in OD or T20 and he never looked that great and I didn't .Also he is (albeit in ODIs) struggling more than any batsman on the lions tour.Regardless I would say that bringing him at this stage could backfire.I'd bring in Finn for Morgan. I don't really see why it should be set in stone that we need to play 6 batsmen and why we can't play 5 bowlers

  • JG2704 on January 31, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    @Vijay_R1965- please show me an article where our team compare's itself with WI of old . It's all in your head. If we're saying Australia's dominance started in mid 90s , if you study their test record they lost 4 series in the SC between 95 and 01 plus one in SL. We have now losy a series away against the best SC Nation , let's see how we get on in SL and India before we are fully judged eh? Or were that Aus side also not true number 1s because they lost 4 series in 6 years in SC or are there different rules for England? We also did draw in SA , but of course their bowlers are 2nd rate???

  • Harry_Kool on January 31, 2012, 0:46 GMT

    Not really sure why so many Indian supporters are happy. At least the 2nd test was a tight contest & the Pommy bowlers have been outstanding, where did the Indian side put up anything that resembled a fight? How are your pie chuckers going to dominate England the same way as the Palistani bowlers? I can see the Lankans putting up a decent show for their spinners are up there, but come on guys, your spinners are well down by comparison. I would worry about the way your team is going to transition rather than toss jibes at the English.

  • cricket_fan_1980 on January 30, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    As much as I like them as batsmen, unfortunately KP and Morgan have to go when England plays a side in Asia with quality spinners. They need to groom batsmen who are specialists of this type of bowling, or who have a natural flair to play it better. One of the only ways to do that is give the English batsmen more exposure playing in Asia. Get them in the IPL, get them on visits for a few months to play country cricket, get them to participate in more tournaments, have more practice matches prior to a test series. These are critical developments that will be needed, otherwise England risks being ridiculed as a No. 1 team riding on the laurels of only performing in 2 or 3 countries and 2 or 3 types of pitches. To be the best, you need to emulate teams of the past that have dominated all conditions year in year out for periods of up to 6, 7 years. I sincerely hope that Pakistan and England both can achieve that. Pakistan for example struggles to bat a lot in Aus and Eng pitches

  • NaniIndCri on January 30, 2012, 16:43 GMT

    I thought the challenge started now (after loosing series), why bother waking up?

  • 12thUmpire on January 30, 2012, 16:14 GMT

    Full credit to Flower for not remonstrating in front of the referee! :-D)

  • jonnybtestmatch on January 30, 2012, 16:13 GMT

    I don't even think SA are particualrly good against spin, and think Pak spinners are class. On that wicket I could not have seen any side, bar India, chasing over 200. The truth is that with groundsman now looking to produce result orientated wickets, the tecniques of batsmen are being shown to be sub standard. I think the decade from 00-10 has over inflated global batting averages and has made mediocre players look class. Take England as a case point. Atherton was tecnically better than Cook, yet average is comparably lower. I think we will begin to see global averages fall, and consequently the resurection of test match cricket. I think there is no point in whigning about foreign conditions, as players in previous eras have found ways of adapting. To all PAK fans you will not hear my fellow Englishmen complaining about rank turners. And neither shoudl Indians complain about a green seamer. At least we are not having to endure any dull draws recently.

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