The Ashes 2013-14

Criticism is deserved - Flower

George Dobell

December 18, 2013

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Andy Flower speaks to the press, Adelaide, December 10, 2013
Andy Flower accepted that these are tough times for England © Getty Images
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There were no excuses, no complaints and no empty promises as Andy Flower reflected on England's Ashes humiliation.

England's head coach accepted that questions would be asked about his own role and that of many of England's senior players and he accepted that it was quite right that they should be.

Flower was particularly critical of England's misfiring batting unit and admitted that, with the Ashes already lost, the final two Tests of the series might be utilised to provide opportunities to younger players.

"It is very obvious we underperformed badly with the bat," he said. "Our first innings batting has been ordinary and we are not going to win many Test matches or many Test series if we don't score heavily in the first innings.

"We've been behind in the game very early on in all three games and that makes it very tough to fight back from. Our bowlers in every second innings have not had enough time off to recuperate and then put the opposition under pressure. The opposition are never under any pressure in their second innings because they have a huge lead.

"Three Tests is ample time for players to come to the fore. The shot selection very obviously hasn't been good enough because the results tell us that: we have made one Test century and they have made seven. And ours came from a 22-year-old all-rounder in his second Test match.

Flower's judgment

  • On Australia's attack: "One of the things we should be honest about is that the Australian attack has performed outstandingly. The addition of Johnson and the use of him as a genuinely quick bowler: they have done extremely well. The back-up of Siddle and Harris and Watson has been very skilful and disciplined. Those three-and-a-half seamers have been outstanding. They have kept us under pressure and bowled outstanding spells and they haven't let up. We haven't been good enough to repel them."
  • On Ben Stokes: "That was a brilliant Test hundred. To play on one of the bounciest tracks in the world on a track that was cracking as well and in a situation that we were in I thought that was an outstanding effort. It is interesting that our only Test century has come from a 22-year-old all rounder. That is certainly a snapshot of our batting under-performance."
  • On Matt Prior: "Matt has been an outstanding cricketer for England during a second phase of his English career. But we constantly review what our best side will be and we also have to have an eye to the future as well."

"In every big Test series we need the senior players to perform and so far that hasn't happened. It is time for those guys to stand up. In fact it's past time, because the series is lost.

"We are going through a tough period as a side now and as number of those individuals are going through tough periods in their careers. It doesn't mean their careers are over. But it does mean they need to call on that experience to help them get out of a tough time quicker than other people.

Flower accepted that there would be a value in providing opportunities to new players in the final two Tests. "This series is now lost and I will be chatting to the selectors and talking to Alastair Cook and coaches about our strategy going into the Melbourne Test," he said.

The most likely changes could see Jonny Bairstow brought in to replace Matt Prior, Gary Ballance brought in to replace Kevin Pietersen and Boyd Rankin given a Test debut in place of one of the seamers. England remain unsure whether Stuart Broad will be fit for the fourth Test and still seem reluctant to pick the out-of-sorts Steven Finn.

It seems unlikely that either Flower or Cook will be sacked by the ECB. Both men remain highly thought of and with the organisation already going through a period of transition - Hugh Morris is being replaced as managing director by Paul Downton and Geoff Miller has been replaced by James Whitaker as head selector - there is no appetite for further change.

But Flower will reflect on his position after the series and make a decision over whether he is the man to rebuild the team for the challenges ahead. He insists that, as of right now, he has not looked beyond the end of the series.

"I've always said I don't look too far ahead personally," Flower said. "There is time for reflection after the series. Ultimately I am responsible for the result of this series. I've got that judgement to make. The English cricket board will have that judgement to make as well.

"Obviously my role means I have to plan ahead for the team's sake but personally I don't like looking too far ahead and quite frankly there are still two Test matches to play in this series and I want all my focus to be on those. I think that's the right thing to do for the England cricket side."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by GCricket01 on (December 23, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

I believe the problem is that England does not seem to enjoy the game and instead focused (a bit obsessively) on the management/technical aspects of it for their own good. This will certainly made them vulnerable to 'boredom syndrome'. They do have talent to come back strongly but for that the 'core' part of the team (Cook, Anderson, Pieterson, Prior, Bell) should spent some quality time away from the game with their families and come back stronger.

England need someone less serious in profile than Andy Flower to navigate them through this troubled times.

Posted by whensdrinks on (December 22, 2013, 5:18 GMT)

@Mycro3A - if these were win-the-toss-win-the-match pitches then you would think that the second innings of the match would be bigger then the third. Alas, Australia's 2nd innings have been much better then England's first. In fact, England's 2nd innings is better then their 1st. Not quite sure what sort of pitch leads to the worst batting conditions being the afternoon of the second day?? Or perhaps, your comment is a bit ridiculous, particularly when you compare Australian pitches to the dross served up in England 6 months ago.

Posted by SaracensBob on (December 22, 2013, 2:55 GMT)

Last summer's 3- 0 Ashes victory flattered to deceive. It was based on big runs from Bell, some decent support from Pietersen and the Aussie top-order batsmen repeatedly giving their wickets away cheaply. Look at the difference since 'Boof' has come in - the Aussies have toughened up and England can't cope. England have been poor. This could be hubris but I lay the blame on Mr Flower. He put three tall 'hit-the-deck-hard' fast bowlers in his squad. They would make hay with the kookaburra ball on the Aussie tracks. Tremlett, who has no genuine pace, was played at Brisbane and hasn't been seen since. Harris and Johnson have had a lovely time getting at the Eng. batsmen - Rankin and Finn have been carrying the drinks! Flower out, Ashley Giles in! A man who knows how to win! My team for Melbourne - Cook, Carberry, Bell, Ballance, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Broad (if fit)/Rankin, Anderson, Rankin/Finn (if Broad not available), Panesar. Let's cut out the dead wood and we might give them a game

Posted by oscoli67 on (December 21, 2013, 9:04 GMT)

The sad fact is that this team has rolled over more meekly than the 0 - 5 mob of 2006/07. Those Australians boasted a number of world class players; by comparison this team is full of journeymen, but the result will still most likely be the same. The Adelaide 06 defeat was comical, but at least those players were in the game until the final day. The leadership both on and off the field seem totally bereft of ideas. I was at the Gabba day 2 & 3 to see the meekest of batting displays followed by Warner & Clarke dining at the free runs buffet we served up. Clueless. I would rather have seen us set a 7/2 field and bowl full a yard outside off stump for 4 hours to at least force the batsmen into taking some risks. I don't think the commitment is there from the coach & he should come out and say so. I'd replace him with a man who has previous experience and a huge point to prove ..... J.M. Arthur.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 20, 2013, 14:09 GMT)

There is a growing debate over Carberry with the Compton lobby turning vociferous. I do not know why. In every game Carberry has at least made a fist of it and tried to score runs as they come rather than go for inert entrenchment. At least Carberry understands that runs is what the game is about. I would give him longer. Compton's whole attitude is wrong. People bang on about KP being 'egotistical';well in the case Compton he saw himself as bigger than the team and really showed how the selectors had no right to sack him. He did not acknowledge that he was just a drag to the tempo. No critics can point to him being born in UK. At one point I expected to read of Compton kidnapping Geoff Miller. He seems far too self obsessed and really turned me off him. Not good. Carbs on the other hand stays quiet and seems quite contented beyond the horror of the team losing. No choice really. Hopefully Carberry can put together a goode score in the remaining two games.

Posted by ScottStevo on (December 20, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

@5wombats, and that's why you're being humiliated now! Comments like, "and pasting Australia 3-0 in England 4 months ago". It wasn't a 'pasting' - far from it. Being English, your arrogant nature took over and ran with the 3-0 scoreline as being a 'pasting' and you all thought you'd walk into Aus, score 500 without loss - as that's what happened last time in Aus - then roll us for 250 at worst and win every test by an innings without even trying. THIS is why you're on the end of a royal walloping! @Garp, give over! Eng were preparing before Aus were for this series, as Aus were in India playing ODIs when Eng arrived! You guys can't have it both ways, ie, you can't be underprepared and at the same time battle weary from a hectic schedule. Which is it? I'll answer for you - it's neither! It's merely what's known in sporting cirlces as excuses! - and poor ones at that!

Posted by 5wombats on (December 20, 2013, 11:54 GMT)

@legsidewide on (December 20, 2013, 9:49 GMT) Nice list - but you ignored England beating India in India a year ago and pasting Australia 3-0 in England 4 months ago. When you say "The lack of competitive matches in the last 2 years" - presumably you are including these 2 series wins for England. Are you seriously trying to claim that these India and Australia series were not competitive? I don't think either of those sets of fans would agree with you. Winning in India is a desperately difficult thing for any touring team to do. TBH I think that's a somewhat limp comment for you to be making, especially when Australia's record over a period longer than the last 2 years is not so great. Ok Aus have thrashed us here, but one swallow doesn't make a summer bud.

Posted by applethief on (December 20, 2013, 9:49 GMT)

@Garp What a limp excuse. Is that he same reason England have been failing for the last 2 years? The lack of competitive matches before they flopped against Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand?

Posted by Garp on (December 20, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

I find it funny how everyone is looking for a reason for England's horrible batting display. The simple truth is they haven't player a competitive match in months, they didn't get together before they left for any conditioning, practice, or scrimmage matches, and they only played maybe 3 days if that from the 2 warm up matches in Australia. There isn't 1 sport that you can take a 3.5 month leave of absence from and then 1 day just show up for a match and be competitive. This is why every major sport has either a training camp or preseason. Ffer some reason this lot of player's we have think there the exception to the rule even though for the last 4 years every series after a prolonged break in the schedule England has failed miserably. The most telling tale is England's woman's team coming out saying they won't make this same error and will put in the time to ensure that the well prepared for their upcoming Ashes series.

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 19, 2013, 22:33 GMT)

One things for certain now, despite all the self talk this Eng squad was good but can no-longer ever be considered great. Great teams go down fighting, they don't roll over and play dead like this lot. Think of the Great Aust & Windies teams, supremacy was steadily wrestled off of them never beaten in to them in 3 rounds. Had Eng not been so arrogant in their self appraisals this inevitable fall would not be from such a fatal height. These same players under a more grounded culture might have put up a much stiffer fight. KP is the only potential 'all time' 11 candidate from '05 onwards, Bell may prove himself another yet the talk since '09 has been of an all time great team, what a destructive fantasy this now proves to be.

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