Flower salutes Strauss' captaincy
England team director Andy Flower emerged from a night of Ashes celebrations before praising the leadership qualities of his skipper Andrew Strauss.
Strauss became the first England captain to claim a Test series win in Australia in 24 years when the tourists sewed up a 3-1 success with their innings and 83-run win at the SCG yesterday.
It was England’s third innings victory of a wholly satisfying series for Strauss’ side, who could hardly have imagined the dominance they exerted over their rivals before they headed Down Under two and a half months ago.
Flower singled out Strauss’ leadership as central to the historic success, which the team celebrated into the early hours in Sydney last night.
“I’d rather talk about the cricket, but the celebrations were good, and well deserved by the players,” Flower said.
“We had a good time and I think the guys are reflecting on a job well done and a job that they are very proud of.
“All sorts of things go into what makes successful sides and Strauss’s leadership is a very influential factor in that success.
“He is very strong in the dressing room and in the middle with bat or marshalling the troops.
“He’s grown in stature in this series, and considering the high position he started, that’s saying a lot about him.”
Flower was also glowing in his endorsement of Strauss’ opening partner Alastair Cook, whose 766 runs at an average of 127.66 ensured his place in Ashes folklore.
Cook’s position in the Test team had come under intense scrutiny during a barren summer with the bat, but Flower credited the 26-year-old’s strength of character for his emphatic turnaround in fortunes as he silenced any doubters under the weight of a flood of runs.
“Cook had a particularly outstanding series, he’s a very strong young man, he’s displayed that strength in a number of ways through his career,” Flower added.
“He’s overcome most challenges that have been put in front of him, which is testament to that strength of character and, considering that people were calling for his head not so long ago, it is an outstanding riposte.
“Although that’s not why he did it, it was because of the pride he has in his own performance and because he is very proud to play for England.
“I am very happy for him personally, and we’re all thankful that he made those contributions to the team for us.”
Both Strauss and Cook were part of the England team that were whitewashed by Australia four years ago, and Flower believes that wide-margin defeat had made this success “extra special”.
James Anderson, Monty Panesar and Paul Collingwood were also involved in the 5-0 series defeat and Flower added: “It’s extra special for the guys who were here last time, definitely.
“A number of us weren’t here, but to come back from that shows a lot of character on their part. Strauss, Colly, Anderson, I think it is slightly more special for them.
“I don’t think you have to reach the depths of despair to appreciate wins like this. But highs and lows do mean you can view things in a balanced fashion.”