Matches (18)
ZIM v IND (1)
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ENG v NZ (W) (1)
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Grant Flower on the first one-day international

Grant Flower has struggled to find his form this season, so his unbeaten fifty and three wickets in the first oneday international against England was a welcome boost both to the team and himself

John Ward
Grant Flower has struggled to find his form this season, so his unbeaten fifty and three wickets in the first oneday international against England was a welcome boost both to the team and himself. Unfortunately Zimbabwe were to lose by five wickets, thanks to Graeme Hick's first successful innings in eight outings against the country he abandoned for the bright lights in 1986. Grant tells John Ward his view of the match.
JW: Grant, this hasn't been a good season for you as a batsman so far. What do you feel the problem has been?
GF: I'm not too sure, to be honest, John. I think perhaps too much one-day cricket and a few technique problems have crept into my game for that reason, and perhaps it has affected my Test form. If you take those areas into Test cricket, you're always going to struggle. I don't think I'm playing as straight as I used to.
JW: I've heard people say you seem to be losing sight of where your off stump is, and that you're not getting as far across to fast bowling in that area as you should be.
GF: There could be some relevance in that. When I was younger I knew exactly where my off stump was. You just go through certain periods in your career. Two seasons ago I could hardly do anything wrong. I'm just going through one of those stages, and hopefully I'll get it right.
JW: So there was the decision to shift you down the order for the one-day matches?
GF: There were probably two reasons: my own lack of form at the top when the ball does a bit more in the opening overs, and also we've been struggling a bit in the middle and the guys rotating the strike. We needed someone able to rotate the strike a bit better in the middle.
JW: What were your personal feelings about that?
GF: I'd like to open still. I definitely feel happier opening. I feel I can do the job there; I've proved it already and I'm just going through a bad patch. Maybe in the meantime it's not a bad thing because the ball doesn't do as much down there, and it's just a matter of rotating the strike and hitting the odd boundary.
JW: What were the team's thoughts about the toss?
GF: We were always going to bat first, because we thought it was not the usual Queens wicket; we thought it could get a bit lower later on. It usually does a bit early in the morning but on that wicket there was hardly any grass on it, so we thought it was a good one to bat on first.
Then we got off to a good start, Johnson and Campbell, 45 for one. The difference was that we lost three quick wickets. Alistair and Stuart [Carlisle] put on a good partnership, but then Stuart got out and immediately afterwards Murray [Goodwin]. Then Alistair ran himself out so Andrew [Flower] and I had to go through a regrouping period. It took us quite a while to get going. It's always hard when you've got two new batters in the middle at the same time. We got to 200-odd but we really needed 220.
JW: How did you find the England bowlers? Were there any you found particularly difficult, or any you looked forward to facing?
GF: They're good; they're good bowlers on this sort of wicket. They bowl wicket to wicket and they get their reverse swing. They get to work on the ball early; it was reverse-swinging by about halfway, I'd say, and they know exactly what they're doing. Bowlers like Ealham and White put it in the right place and they're hard to get away. Really, they're all about as difficult and as good as each other.
JW: You seemed to be struggling a bit to find your timing at times, but you just stuck in there and kept going.
GF: Yes, at the start. It's always difficult when you've lost a few quick wickets and you have to give yourself a chance to get going, because you can't afford to lose another wicket, otherwise the pressure is going to get even worse. It's quite hard to come in when the ball is reverse-swinging straight away. With the slower outfield and the ring of fielders, it's quite hard to penetrate.
JW: Can you remember any particularly satisfying shots you played?
GF: I was just trying to rotate the strike, to be honest, towards the end looking for a few more boundaries, looking to go for about five an over. Obviously the boundaries help, but the main game plan is just to rotate the strike with my partner. I quite enjoyed the one six off Mullally! I just ran down the wicket, took a wild swipe and hit it in the middle!
JW: Was that your first international fifty since the one you made against South Africa in Kenya?
GF: Yes, I got 91 there. I suppose so; it's been a while.
JW: And hopefully given you a bit of confidence for the future.
GF: Definitely, yes, whenever you get a few runs. I think my bowling's been helping me to stay in the side, really. I've been doing a job with the ball, getting through a certain number of overs each game.
JW: What was the feeling about our total at the end of the innings?
GF: We thought we were about twenty shy, but on that wicket, if we got early wickets we always thought we had a chance, if we got their main three batsmen. We got two of the main three [Knight and Hussain], but of course we didn't get the other [Hick].
JW: Was this the game plan when you took the field, then?
GF: Pretty much so - to try and get some early wickets and just put the pressure on from there. We just bowled a bit too straight, I think, and they got some easy runs off their legs.
JW: How were things going until the time you came on to bowl?
GF: Not too good, to be honest; I thought they were playing their game quite easily, just getting four an over, and that's exactly what they needed.
JW: So when you came on to bowl, what specifically were you aiming for?
GF: I just bowled over the wicket because there was a bit of rough there; I just bowled middle and leg, trying to get the batsmen to play against the spin, and got a couple of wickets. I got Maddy caught at 45 (short fine leg), sweeping, top edge; Solanki tried to cut one that just went on a bit with the arm, and White hit a full toss straight to square leg.
JW: Did you get any turn?
GF: Not all the time, but occasionally.
JW: You always seem to do a good job with your bowling in the one-day matches, but you struggle for wickets in the Tests. Can you account for that?
GF: I don't think I'm a big turner of the ball, and in Test matches there's a longer period to bat and there's more time, they have more patience. When you play on flatter wickets you've got to be a genuine turner of the ball, and I don't think I'm that - just a fill-in bowler for the onedayers, really.
JW: Was there any particular point where you could sense the game was slipping away from us?
GF: Just with about five overs to go, when Graeme Hick was still in there with Ealham. They did the job and they were in charge.
JW: In retrospect, did the team think there was anything they could have done differently that could have changed it?
GF: Well, I thought we just bowled a bit straight at the start. If we had got our lines a bit better we would have had more of a chance.
JW: Have you any other views on the match?
GF: I think the two sides are pretty even and if we can keep a few more wickets in hand we should go well for the series.
JW: How does the attitude of this England team compare with that of the one we beat three years ago?
GF: I think they probably seem more motivated. They've got Duncan Fletcher and he's a very good coach. I'm not saying David Lloyd wasn't a good coach but they all seem a bit more motivated, if anything. They had good players last time England came out; they have good players now. I don't think that's changed. I think their attitude may have changed a bit.