Strauss's sportsmanship causes collision with Flower

Since taking over in the most unpromising circumstances the captain and coach of England have formed a close and mutually appreciative relationship. Sometimes, without being gushing, it has seemed that each could have been founders of the other's fan club.

Which does not mean they must agree on all matters, as Andy Flower demonstrated yesterday in mildly chiding his captain. The point of contention was the sporting gesture when Strauss recalled the departing Sri Lankan batsman, Angelo Mathews after he had been run out in the Champions Trophy tie between the sides on Friday night.

Mathews had collided with bowler Graham Onions in turning for a second run and was run out by yards. He was rightly despatched but Strauss generously spared him. While it eventually made no difference to the outcome, England winning a match in which they were distinct second favourites, it might easily have done.

Strauss said the dismissal did not look right, Flower, also a former international captain, thought otherwise. It is certainly not the sort of magnanimity he will be advocating today against a hard-nosed South Africa side. "I would definitely not have recalled him back," said Flower. "Absolutely not. Straussy is a good man and I trust him completely. He made his decision and I'll back him on that, but I just wouldn't have done it myself. I would have sent the batsman on his way, he ran into the bowler it is as simple as that."

On this, Flower was perfectly right. Mathews would have been unfortunate but these things occur in cricket: he was trying to steal a second run by the most direct route. It does not, however, make Strauss a soft touch and if anything it enhanced the quality of the performance.

What a difference a match makes. From having no hope, England are suddenly awash with the stuff. They must be careful not to drown. After defeating Sri Lanka by six wickets at the Wanderers they will today play South Africa on a different kind of surface at Centurion Park.

It will be slow, it will dictate attritional cricket and it may mean that England play two spinners, as South Africa certainly will. Flower did not rule out the recall of Adil Rashid, though it would immediately impose expectation on his 21-year-old shoulders.

It is impossible to be optimistic about England's prospects but then that was the prevailing sentiment before Friday. South Africa, like Sri Lanka, look too strong, though they also have their own high expectations with which to contend. "It is a huge challenge for us because they are rated the number one side in the world," said Flower. "We are huge underdogs and everyone realises that, but it doesn't mean we can't win the game."

Flower was also candid about the prospects of a recall for Ravi Bopara, who was dropped on Friday. "He is very talented and he is a good friend of mine from our time at Essex, but the polishing of him as a rough diamond has to be done by himself," Flower said.

England did themselves a power of good on Friday night. Whatever their common narrative about the amount of talent in the dressing room they must know that is where it mostly resides. Defeat today will not mean the end for England since victory against New Zealand on Tuesday may still permit progress to the semi-finals. But there we go again getting ahead of ourselves. So far, it is only one win.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Voices
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Life and Style
Gold timing: the Apple Watch Edition
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor