Flowers optimistic over England future

England coach Andy Flower insisted he was "very proud" of his team after their Ashes triumph - but insisted there can be no letting up.

England regained the Ashes yesterday with a 197-run success at The Oval giving them a 2-1 series victory.

And Flower told a press conference in London today: "I'm very proud of our guys, they did a brilliant job over the series and came back from a tough position on a number of occasions.

"But we have got a long way to go as a side, we are still number five in the world and we've got a long way to go to be where we want to be."

Flower continued: "We did some good things in the West Indies, bonding, and started this season well.

"I thought we were in with a chance against Australia but I knew we were underdogs. Australia have been the best team in the world for a long time but we knew we had a chance and we've taken it.

"We knew there'd be a fight on in the last innings and so it panned out. We didn't want to give them any sniff at all, it was a long hard fight to get 10 wickets but we applied the pressure."

The 41-year-old Zimbabwean hailed the leadership skills of captain Andrew Strauss, continuing: "He is a good bloke and a very good leader, a very strong man.

"He's brilliant with a bat in his hand, he's good in the field and in the changing room when the team need a strong man around he's been there.

"I said I thought he'd make a great captain for England and this is some of the evidence of that."

Flower was also impressed by the contribution of Andrew Flintoff, who enjoyed a winning end to his Test career and is to undergo exploratory surgery.

He explained: "He's had a tough time with injuries over the years and has always fought back very well.

"He looks after himself well and is a very strong man - to come back as he has is testament to that will and body. I'm sure he'll come back and do great things for England."

As for the future, Flower added: "We've got to be hungry as a team and I think we are - but things move on very quickly.

"We're bang into a one-day series any minute now, then it's South Africa and the Champions Trophy.

"There is no room for complacency in our side at all - we've got to keep climbing."

Flower does not want the players to get too carried away with lofty ambitions, however.

"I've heard that phrase 'dominating the world' - I think that's getting a bit ahead of ourselves. We've got to get to number four first!" he said.

"We've got good competition for places... (Jonathan) Trott did magnificently getting his 41 in the first innings and then backing that up with 120.

"And (Ravi) Bopara's gone back to county cricket and got a double hundred.

"That's exactly what we ask of them - to force their way back into the side, not just wait to be given chances."

He added: "We are inconsistent. I don't really want to go into all the areas that we see can be improved on. But after the dust settles here we will review this series and be stronger for it."

Flower reckons Stuart Broad has great potential but has a lot of work ahead if he is to be considered a top all-rounder.

"I think he will become a world-class all-rounder but he's got a lot of work to do to get there," Flower warned.

"We've seen the skills with the ball and we've seen glimpses of it with the bat. He's got a lot of work to do with the bat to be classed as a world-class all-rounder.

"But he's only a young man and he's handled it very well so far and I'm sure he will continue to do so. I think he will be very much his own man, he won't be replacing Freddie."

On a personal note, the South Africa-born former Zimbabwe international was thrilled to be part of an Ashes series - and particularly on the winning side.

"It's been brilliant to be involved with an Ashes series," he said.

"Obviously I never thought I would ever be involved in one.

"I'm proud to have been part of it. It's been exciting, it's been lovely getting around the country and seeing full houses and seeing the passion in people's faces.

"Being there yesterday with capacity crowds who stayed on for the awards ceremony and cheered the boys as they walked around the field was pretty special."

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