Flower backs England to respond
Andy Flower is confident England will bounce back from their defeat in the third Ashes Test.
The tourists were beaten by 267 runs at the WACA - their first reverse since arriving Down Under - and must now regroup ahead of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
Flower, however, believes that will not be a problem and points to England’s impressive displays prior to Perth as justification for his optimism.
“The cricket we’ve played on this tour so far should stand us in good stead,” said the team director.
“The one defeat we’ve had on tour was here in Perth, and it was a bad defeat for us.
“But we are quite comfortable sticking to the principles we’ve used for the six weeks on this tour so far. They’ve served us well and will continue to do so.”
Flower confirmed that England will therefore stick with a four-man attack in Melbourne.
“A five-Test series is hard on everyone, both physically and emotionally, and for the fast bowlers even more so,” he continued.
“In the absence of a quality all-rounder we are sticking with a four-man attack. We have shown over the last 18 months that it has served us well.”
England had been backed as clear favourites to win the series prior to their defeat in Perth, but Flower insists complacency has never been an issue for his side.
“This was always going to be a fight, and it would have been naive to think otherwise,” he said.
“Coming to Australia to win is a huge challenge - we knew that at the start.
“We played some very good cricket in the first two Tests, but didn’t here - and were outplayed.
“We’ve got to regroup after this defeat and come back hard in Melbourne.”
Australia’s man-of-the-match Mitchell Johnson and prolific middle-order batsman Mike Hussey were the two main reasons England faltered in Perth.
Hussey has proven a thorn in England’s side throughout the series, amassing over 500 runs in just five innings, and the left-hander appears to be in 'bulletproof' form.
“Batsmen do (sometimes) feel that way, yes,” Flower agreed. “But we all know how quickly things can turn around.
“We’ve just seen a very good example of it in a team sense between Adelaide and here.
“The same thing can happen with individuals. He’ll be trying his darndest to keep that form going; we want to try to burst it.”
However, Flower does not believe victory in Perth makes Australia invincible, stressing the significance of Hussey and Shane Watson in the series to date.
He added: “There's no doubt that everything is not rosy in their camp.
“One Test match does not create that, so yes we realise that. Watson and Hussey have been very good for them so far, and we will be looking to make the most of that in this next Test.”
Off-spinner Graeme Swann, the world’s number two Test bowler who enjoyed precious little assistance at Perth, will be seeking to limit Hussey and company in Melbourne.
“Without a doubt, he can come back,” Flower insisted. “He got him in the first innings of this Test, and I’d be surprised if Swann got intimidated by Michael Hussey.
“We’d have expected a guy of his quality to affect the momentum a little more. But once we got on that pitch, we all noticed it was tricky facing the quicks and the bounce was aiding them - and there wasn’t much turn there for him - so it was a difficult task.
“I don’t blame him for that at all - it was a tough ’ask’. Melbourne is a different set of conditions.”