Calm down and ignore rankings, Flower tells players


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The Independent Online

There is no pleasing some people. As most observers of his team began to assess yesterday where exactly England might stand in the pantheon, Andy Flower, the coach, rained on the parade before it left home.

With the No 1 place in the ICC world rankings within touching distance after England went 2-0 up in the series against India, Flower said it was not occupying the team's thoughts. "It's not, and it's important for the side that it's not at the forefront of our minds," he said. "At the forefront of our minds right now should be resting and recuperating after the back-to-back Tests and then getting our minds and bodies ready for the next challenge at Edgbaston.

"It's actually not only pointless looking further ahead than that, it's dangerous. So I would like to emphasise right now – and we've done the same in our dressing room – that we're ahead in the series but we're only halfway through.

"It's very important our players and management understand that, and keep feet firmly on the ground," he said. "We can gain great confidence from the way we've handled ourselves under pressure but next Wednesday is the start of another great test. And I don't mean Test match – I mean test of the players."

Before the third Test, which begins in Birmingham next Wednesday, England may have two selection puzzles to answer. The most difficult will be the composition of the fast bowling attack. Tim Bresnan came in as a replacement for the injured Chris Tremlett in Nottingham and took seven wickets and scored 101 runs.

On the other hand, Tremlett took four wickets at Lord's and regularly discomfited India's batsmen. Bresnan is now the man in occupation but he knows that nothing is certain: "It is going to be a tough decision, someone is going to have to miss out and someone is going to be very disappointed, and I hope it is not me."

Bresnan is the only England player ever to have been on the winning side in his first eight Test matches. "Played eight, won eight," said Flower, "a stat he is not afraid to mention to me."

The other decision for the selectors may involve a replacement for Jonathan Trott if his injured shoulder does not recover. An MRI scan showed there was no bone damage, but Flower said Trott was still far from 100 per cent fit.

James Taylor's fine innings for England Lions yesterday should count if Lions games mean anything.