Flower hits out at middle order
England's coach, Andy Flower, has accused his players of failing to heed the lessons of past performances, and has described the performances of his batsmen as 'simply not good enough'
England's coach, Andy Flower, has accused his players of failing to heed the lessons of past performances, and has described the performances of his batsmen as "simply not good enough", after England squandered their 1-0 lead in the Ashes by crumbling to defeat by an innings and 80 runs, in less than two-and-a-half days of the fourth Test at Headingley.
Flower said that the match had a very similar feel to England's previous defeat, a equally catastrophic performance against West Indies at Sabina Park, in which they were shot out for 51 in their second innings to lose by an innings and 23 runs. But the memory that most riled him was England's ten-wicket trouncing against South Africa on the same ground last summer, when many of the same elementary mistakes were made by England's batsmen during a decisive first-innings capitulation of 203 in 52.3 overs.
"I always question myself, and preparation is a big part of my job," Flower said. "But probably the most disappointing aspect of that first innings was that it was a carbon copy innings [to 2008]. The whole feel and the types of shot and dismissals were similar, and that's what disappoints me. Twelve months on, we want to see some learning."
"We are No. 5 in the world for a reason, it's because we are inconsistent, and what happened here is exactly why we are No. 5," he said. "When we can put some consistency into our performances we can climb that ladder, but at the moment that is the gulf between the two sides. But that does not mean we can't win the last Test match. We've beaten these guys once in the series, but we're going to have to play really well."
In particular, Flower hit out at the performance of England's middle order, after Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood contributed 16 runs for six dismissals, the lowest combined tally for Nos, 3, 4 and 5 in Test history. But, he said that the clamour for wholesale changes to England's line-up for the fifth Test would be resisted, at least until such time as the dust has settled on one of England's most ignominious performances in recent memory.
"We have a selection meeting at the end of the week, and in between now and the selection meeting we can have a proper think about it, and a discussion," said Flower. "The output from our middle order, in terms of runs, is simply not good enough. We've scored one century in four Tests, the opposition have scored seven, and that is as clear an indication of what's happened on the batting front as anything."
Flower would not be drawn on speculation that Mark Ramprakash could be offered a shock recall for the fifth Test, and followed his captain, Strauss, in appealing for calm. "The danger of the talk is it sounds like we're 4-0 down," he said. "We're not 4-0 down, it's 1-1, and we intend to go to The Oval to play good cricket.
"We don't think we respond to calls for change, we make our own decisions, and if we did anything but that, I don't think it would be good news," he said. "Now is not the time to say whether we'll be making changes or not. We've got to let the dust settle, it's the only sensible thing to do. We've been in adversity a lot prior to this game and we've fought back, and I think we can come back from this. We've got to come back from it. It's the only option available to us."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo