Flower sees glimpses of bright future
Andy Flower believes England are gradually developing a formula that can end years of malaise in one-day international cricket, as the team director reflects on ICC Champions Trophy elimination.
Although they were knocked out by holders Australia in the semi-final last night, there were enough signs in progressing from Group B to encourage Flower ahead of the five-match one-day series in South Africa next month.
Flower will discuss winter squad selection with England captain Andrew Strauss and the selectors on Tuesday. It will include favourable reports for Kent opener Joe Denly and Middlesex left-hander Eoin Morgan in particular.
“Look, the bottom line is we didn’t get through to the final, and it was disappointing to get that close to having a go at it, but I thought there were glimpses of some very positive things,” said Flower.
“Certainly as a batting group I like the aggression that was shown and I think – of course you can’t play every game the same – that that’s the type of game we want to play as a batting side and our batsmen have to get used to that.
“Some of the individuals showed that they could excel in international cricket. I thought Morgan in the middle order a couple of times played match-winning innings and to do that out of four games is pretty special.
“I also liked the look of Denly up at the front. I know he didn’t get any outstanding personal results but I thought he showed a bit of class with the bat, he looked like a good strokemaker, and now he has to improve on from getting his nice thirties to getting bigger scores for us.”
England have been criticised for a lack of consistency with selection in the past and Flower is aware of how delicate some decisions could prove with the ICC World Cup now just 18 months away.
“It’s always a tricky situation because if guys aren’t getting good enough results sometimes you would be silly to carry on in the same vein,” Flower said.
“If you look at the number of caps that England players get compared to other nations it does seem that we chop and change quite a lot.
“No-one has guaranteed positions but it would be a good idea, I think, to give guys exposure in their positions and give them time to grow into them.
“Strauss and I have had a lot of time out here to discuss things and discuss it with some of the other players and coaches.
“There aren’t going to be wholesale changes, we’ve basically got the best one-day cricketers in England here.
“There might be the odd change but this tournament was hopefully the start of something a little different.”
Having arrived in South Africa on the back of a 6-1 hammering by Australia in the NatWest Series, the victories over Sri Lanka and the host nation have increased optimism, particularly given that Kevin Pietersen is scheduled to return from his Achilles injury when England return here in November.
“We can’t say yet but I am still thinking positively along the lines of him starting the South African tour,” Flower confirmed.
“I am very hopeful that we can play good one-day international cricket out here.
“It is going to be a tough series - that South African side is a very good side - and it is also going to be important in the context of the Test tour.”
After showing they have the talent to beat some of the world’s best sides, the customary poor start against the Australians was made all the more disappointing.
“I must say once getting into the semi I felt that we had a very good chance of getting through,” said Flower. “Australia played out of their skins - I wouldn’t say we didn’t compete but we weren’t in the same ball park yesterday.
“But there were good things to come out of this tournament – the wins against South Africa and Sri Lanka were superb wins in high-pressure environments.”