Andy Flower keen to eradicate 'niggly' incidents
Wednesday 26 October 2011
Andy Flower is setting the example he needs England's one-day international cricketers to follow, by accepting his share of "personal responsibility" for their Indian whitewash.
The England coach today reflected on the "horrible defeat" at Eden Gardens which last night consigned the tourists to a 5-0 series scoreline.
He insists mere rhetoric about 'lessons being learned' will not suffice, if England are to have any chance of faring better when they return to India in early 2013 for seven more ODIs.
By then, he warns England's batsmen must have made themselves better equipped to play spin in the subcontinent and to deal with pressure situations.
"It was a horrible defeat for us," he said simply of a nightmare conclusion to a campaign which went from bad to worse, and for good measure contained a string of on-field flashpoints which did neither team - especially England - any credit.
England arrived at the start of this month full of optimism that they could confirm the superiority they demonstrated over India on home soil only weeks earlier, albeit in a country where they had lost their two previous ODI series 5-1 and 5-0.
They dutifully engaged in the industrious preparation which has so often served them well, during a 10-day holding camp - including two warm-up victories - before the first ODI in Hyderabad.
Yet once the action started in earnest, it was clear they were a long way short of requirements.
"My belief was that our preparation was good," said Flower.
"But looking back at a 5-0 defeat, I've got to question that.
"We've all got to take personal responsibility for this result. I head up this tour, so it's got to start with me - without a doubt.
"I have got to question how we have prepared our batsmen for this series."
Flower will not make snap judgments, on personnel or methods - because that is not his style - but England's collective failings have given him ample food for thought.
"What I can say is that it's important we learn things from this tour.
"England sides historically have not done well here. We come back here in 14 months' time for a seven-match one-day series, and we have to be better.
"We've got to come back out here with a different set of batting skills, to deal with their spinners in the middle order."
England's final embarrassment saw all 10 wickets fall for 47, to be all out for 176 in pursuit of 271 for eight after captain Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter had raced to 129 without loss - statistically their all-time worst ODI collapse.
"The pitch started to turn a lot more. It's important everyone recognises that it's not easy out there," said their coach.
"But we weren't skilful enough - either delivering those skills, or handling the pressure of that situation.
"I think, considering the start we had, we should have been able to build partnerships - however difficult it is out there - and certainly if not win that game, get very close to winning it.
"The batsmen will reflect on that and understand it, and be very disappointed they could not do better."
Flower will not sugar-coat a humbling experience which included four landslide defeats, and one narrower one in Mohali. But equally he can still see positive aspects in a campaign which saw, for example, the emergence of Steven Finn as a world-class fast bowler.
Finn's efforts were in vain thanks to meagre support from his fellow bowlers, and a dearth of runs to defend.
But Flower said: "To give some exposure to our young cricketers has been very important.
"We've also had a young captain, who has played his first one-day international in India and now played and captained five of them.
"That should stand him and English cricket in good stead in future.
"It's really important that we do learn, and don't just talk about it.
"Any review should come up with some concrete decisions.
"Talking a good game, talking about learning is one thing; actually doing it is another, and a lot trickier and tougher. That is what we've all got to do."
He does not subscribe to the mitigation of lack of experience in Indian conditions, nor does he concede English acquiescence to make players more easily available for the Indian Premier League is a viable solution.
"A few of our batsmen play IPL cricket - Kevin Pietersen one, Ravi Bopara another," Flower said.
"We've got quite a lot of experience out here in the subcontinent - I don't think that's an excuse that we can make.
"The IPL is quite a tricky situation. Given the schedules we have and that we make decisions to rest players at certain times during the year, trying to squeeze in the IPL is always going to present certain challenges to us.
"It is not all doom and gloom. But we want to make sure that when we come back in 14 months' time, we are better able to deliver our skills here under pressure."
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