Andy Flower believes the wave of emotion generated by an Ashes contest can carry England to victory over Australia at Trent Bridge.
The first Test starts in Nottingham on Wednesday and Flower, who is, outwardly, one of the most steely and level-headed figures, is happy for his players to follow their hearts as well as their heads.
These matches are remembered for the quality and drama of the cricket but also for the verbal battles between the sets of players at the moments of greatest tension. As team director, Flower’s job will be to know when to fire up certain players for the joust and when to compose others.
“Remaining calm and logical is important, but emotions play a big part in all our lives,” said Flower. “They play a significant part in this competition and series, which is part of what makes it really exciting.
“My job is to prepare the guys and get them to optimum readiness to compete. For some guys, that means geeing them up; for others, it means calming them down.”
England have named a 13-man squad for the match, with Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions fighting for the final place in the bowling attack alongside Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.
Broad insists he is fully fit after having a cortisone injection to treat a problem in his right shoulder last Monday, but Flower will want to see the 27-year-old complete a full practice session to be reassured.
The decision to discard Nick Compton after the Test series against New Zealand means Joe Root will be captain Alastair Cook’s opening partner, with Kevin Pietersen returning to the team at four and Jonny Bairstow at six.
After an impressive winter in which they won in India and drew in New Zealand, England’s target is, ultimately, to regain top spot in the world Test rankings, which South Africa seized last summer with their 2-0 series win in this country.
Their cause would be helped substantially by commanding victories both in this Ashes series and the five Tests that follow in Australia between November and January.
Flower continued: “One of our principles is constant improvement and we have some areas in which we can improve. We have had various discussions but we will tie up the real specifics at Trent Bridge.
“We have been preparing for this series as we would for any other and I think the players are match-hardened. This bunch of cricketers have adapted well in various conditions.
“They did so in India last winter, they have fought a number of campaigns together and they have won a lot together, so that should give them confidence.”
England squad for first test
Age - Tests - Runs - Ave.
A N Cook (c) 28 92 7,52449.17
J E Root 22 6 424 42.40
I J L Trott 32 43 3,451 50.01
K P Pietersen 33 94 7,49949.01
J M Bairstow 23 8 341 31.00
M J Prior (wkt) 31 67 3,680 44.33
Age Tests Wkts Ave.
T T Bresnan 28 18 57 32.54
S C J Broad 27 57 195 30.93
G P Swann 34 52 222 28.50
S T Finn 24 22 88 28.73
J M Anderson 30 82 307 30.14
G Onions 30 9 32 29.90
* First Test 10-14 July (Trent Bridge)
Second Test 18-22 July (Lord’s)
Third Test 1-5 Aug (Old Trafford)
Fourth Test 9-13 Aug (Chester-Le-St)
Fifth Test 21-15 Aug (The Oval)
- More about:
- Alastair Cook
- Graeme Swann
- Kevin Pietersen
- Oval (cricket)
- Stuart Broad
- Trent Bridge