Flower thrilled with Brisbane recovery
Team director Andy Flower was delighted he was able to watch England’s batting heroics on the last two days of the drawn Ashes opener at the Gabba.
However, the 42-year-old was able to return to the Gabba to see Alastair Cook’s maiden first-class double century plus hundreds from fellow opener Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott.
Those tons enabled the tourists to declare on a mammoth 517 for one yesterday, having begun their second innings in a perilous position, and force Australia to play for the draw.
“It was nice to see them build huge partnerships like they did, Strauss leading from the front after his brief knock in the first dig,” Flower said.
“Watching Cook and Trott build that partnership was particularly special,” he added of the second-wicket pair, who combined for a Gabba Test record 329-run alliance.
“The way we fought back in the game was outstanding. With a 220 deficit, that’s a very dangerous situation to be in in any game.
“I thought the team, and especially those batsmen, showed particularly strong character in fighting their way out of it.
“(It’s) very good to come away from that situation with a draw, and to have the opportunity of applying a little bit of pressure at the end.”
And Flower was eager to emphasise that despite building some useful momentum in the second innings at the Gabba, there was room for improvement in England’s performance.
“One of our very strong principles is that we always look to improve and the first-innings batting is always a focus,” he said.
“You get heavy first-innings runs, you put the opposition under pressure and we didn’t do that in this last Test.
“So we’ll be obviously looking to target that area. Even though we bowled, I thought, outstandingly well, they still scored 480 so we need to put them under pressure and create chances.”
Flower dismissed suggestions that the result in Brisbane was a positive omen given the similarities to last year’s Ashes opener at Cardiff.
On that occasion, last-wicket pair Monty Panesar and James Anderson salvaged a draw after Paul Collingwood’s vigil had retrieved what looked a certain lost cause.
“It was quite a dramatic end to that Cardiff Test, with tension all through that last day,” Flower recalled.
“This one probably petered out a little, but certainly after such a big deficit to come through under pressure as well as we did - there are similarities I suppose.
“But the bottom line is the scoreline is 0-0 and we’ll be starting that battle again on Friday.”
Flower, who arrived in Adelaide today with the rest of the England squad ahead of this week’s second Test there, had the potentially cancerous mole taken off his upper right cheek under local anaesthetic.
The former Zimbabwe wicketkeeper-batsman was relieved last Friday’s surgery has removed all the dangerous tissue and he therefore has no more health issues to worry about.
“I just got a little bit of a surprise with the results of that little biopsy,” he said, having taken England security expert Reg Dickason’s advice to have the suspect mole examined - despite previous medical assurances it was not malevolent.
“Then they had to whip some of that stuff away. I got some good results yesterday, so there are no issues in the immediate future.”