Andy Flower wants input on England schedule

England team director Andy Flower believes his coaching team should play a more significant role in scheduling after his side have been left depleted at the end of a long tour of Australia.

England have been stripped to the bare bones of their squad ahead of Sunday's final match of the three-and-a-half month tour in Perth.

Paul Collingwood became the fifth player to fly back to England last night after he was ruled out of the game, the seventh of a protracted one-day international series, due to a back spasm.

Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring) and Chris Tremlett (side) had already flown home earlier yesterday to join Graeme Swann (knee/back) and Tim Bresnan (calf), who returned to England last week, as early casualties of the tour.

That has left Flower undermanned for the final game of a series that has long been decided, with Australia leading 5-1, and more significantly undermined the preparations ahead of the World Cup.

Flower is in no doubt the long trip has contributed to the current injury crisis and admitted he would like more say in the team's schedule.

"Without a doubt the length of the tour is a reason for the injuries," he said.

"We've been here over three months now and with the intensity at which the guys play their cricket, and with the intensity that we demand in training it is no surprise that people will pick up injuries and break down at the end of a long, hard tour."

Asked what input the coaching team have in the itinerary, he added: "Very little say. Ideally the coach's thoughts should be sought, but in most instances these fixture lists and itineraries are in place way before any information is sought from the coach.

"It would be quite sensible to look at how these tours are set up, especially this close to a World Cup, however, these are the schedules that we are given and we will deal with them as well as we can."

The crammed schedule has left England with just a three-day turnaround before they fly to the sub-continent on February 12, but Flower insisted: "It is our job to be at our peak as close to the start of the World Cup as possible.

"That's what we'll be aiming for."

The former Zimbabwe skipper pointed to England's batting performance in Wednesday's game in Sydney, when they posted their record score of 333 for six in sweltering conditions, as an indication that the team was still able to perform at their best.

While Australia completed their record chase, Flower was happy with the resolve of his injury-ravaged side.

"I thought our guys fought incredibly hard in that last game in the heat in Sydney," he added.

"It was a great game of cricket. There were some sore bodies out there; people limping on and off the field, but they gave everything they had in defending that 333.

"Unfortunately we didn't win that game but we will be doing the same here in Perth - going to win it."