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England have the necessary experience - Flower

For the England coach the World Twenty20 is a chance to correct a poor record in the shortest format of the game

Cricinfo staff
Andy Flower addresses the media, Mumbai, November 10, 2008

Andy Flower: backing England to improve their Twenty20 record  •  AFP

Having earned themselves some valuable momentum in an otherwise low-key Test and ODI series against West Indies, England launch the ICC World Twenty20 next Friday when they take on Netherlands in the opening fixture at Lord's. For their coach, Andy Flower, the tournament represents an opportunity to correct a poor record in the shortest format of the game.
"We haven't played good Twenty20 cricket [in the past] but that doesn't mean we can't do well in this competition," Flower said in an interview with Big Hitter magazine. "We have guys with more Twenty20 experience now and we have the talent and variety of player necessary."
Aside from a trio of victories over New Zealand last year, England have not beaten a major nation over 20 overs since they squared their two-match series against West Indies at The Oval in June 2007. At the inaugural World Twenty20 three months later, their solitary victory came against Zimbabwe, before defeats to South Africa, New Zealand and India ended their participation.
In total, England have won six and lost nine of their 15 Twenty20 internationals since defeating Australia by 100 runs in their maiden fixture in 2005. Only two players - Kevin Pietersen and the captain, Paul Collingwood - have been ever-present in the side, although their international commitments have meant they have often been unavailable to play in the domestic Twenty20 Cup.
Flower, however, believes this year's squad can draw on a range of experiences at international, domestic and IPL level, and aim for an improved performance. "One of the reasons why we haven't nailed Twenty20 is because some of our internationals are not very experienced at it," he said. "We've done a lot of thinking and analysis from what we've seen at the IPL - some of our players have been out there - so we've got some good information that should help us."
Though he himself did not play Twenty20 cricket at international level, Flower was a regular in Essex's set-up until his retirement in 2007, and has plenty of theories as to how to succeed in the shortened format. "[You] must be able to adapt, have strong hitters and top-class batsmen up front," he said. "Ravi Bopara has shown what a class player can do at the top of the order, which you need against the new ball - not just lower order sloggers thrown in.
"It is important to have a blend in your batting and I believe we have that in our side," he added. "Adaptability and flexibility is required because games can change so quickly. Down the order you need people who can hit boundaries and we have players like [Dimitri] Mascarenhas, [Owais] Shah, [Luke] Wright and [Graham] Napier to fulfil that role.
"With the bowling a captain needs options in his attack - more so than in ODIs; people who can be brought on for one over to do a job. Everything is accelerated in Twenty20 cricket so one over is more like three or four. In terms of the variety in the bowling attack, you need a couple of quicks, a couple of medium pacers where the 'keeper stands up and spin options."
With two centuries in the Tests against West Indies, Flower's former Essex colleague Bopara is very much England's man of the moment, and his role at the top of the batting order will be vital to the team's bid for momentum.
"An opener and his partner need to dovetail and be able to play a variety of games," said Flower. "When it's your day, and you are hitting the ball well, then you go on the attack, and other times it's not [your day]. We have seen evidence of Ravi taking charge and other times when he has played second fiddle. It is important that he is capable of doing that but he also has enough class and timing to attack the new ball as well."
"You do need to have people capable of hitting over the boundary but you don't need to be a huge hitter [to do well]," he added. "If you aren't [a huge hitter] then you have to be skilful in other areas. James Foster, for instance, is in the side for his scoring ability lower down the order in manoeuvring the ball into different areas.
"You don't have to beat the ball out of the park to be effective. Eoin Morgan is the same - a good player of spin who plays slightly differently. As a coach you need to be able to adapt to the players at your disposal. All the players are good players in their own right so I will try to help them in any area I can. Most of the time my approach is to try to enhance the strengths they already have."
Though Flower admitted that the loss of Andrew Flintoff to a knee injury would be a blow to the team's prospects, he resisted any temptation to offer a recall to Nottinghamshire's spinning allrounder, Samit Patel, who was omitted from the original squad on the grounds of his poor fitness, and instead opted for Yorkshire's legspinner, Adil Rashid.
"The situation with Samit is simple," said Flower. "He was de-selected because he hadn't made any improvement in his fitness. We believe fitness is very important in the progress of the team and as long as people are improving they don't have to be perfect physical specimens. No improvement was made by Samit over a two-month period so that's why we made him unavailable for selection for the World Twenty20."
Issue One of Big Hitter magazine will be on sale in the UK from Saturday, May 30