Change of guard encourages Flower
Australia’s lack of ‘great players’, combined with England’s recent success against their fiercest rivals, has led team director Andy Flower to believe his charges can retain the Ashes this winter.
Flower cites the absence of several stars involved for Australia in the last Ashes Down Under, which they won 5-0, as key to his viewpoint.
Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer are among those to have retired since that 2006/07 whitewash.
While Australia still include the likes of Ricky Ponting, who is second in the all-time Test run charts, Flower does not place the current crop in the same class as some of those playing four years ago.
He told ecb.co.uk/video: “Some of their great players aren’t playing any more, but some of their very fine players are still involved: Ricky Ponting being the most obvious one.
“They’re always a very good side, they are a very good team and we will have to be at our best to beat them.”
Flower is in no doubt England can hit the heights required to win a Test series in Australia for the first time since 1986/87.
“I believe that we can win out there and it’s an exciting prospect with that in mind,” he added.
“We understand that they are a very good side in Australia and they have been the dominant side in world cricket for quite a long time, but we’ve beaten them a number of times recently.
“We’ve beaten them in the last Ashes, we beat them in the (World) Twenty20 final and we’ve just beaten them in the one-day series. So our guys believe they can win. That guarantees us nothing at all.
“The fact that Australia lost recently to India, who are a very good side themselves, in India means nothing when it comes to that first day in Brisbane.
“We understand that we can win, but we are going to have to play very well to do so.”
Flower, who has been at the helm since January 2009, knows victory Down Under would be a significant step towards his ultimate goal for England.
“We want to be the number one team in the world and we’ve started to make progress in that regard,” he said. “We’ve had a good 18 months and we are continually looking to improve.
“We’ve had a very good summer in which we’ve won every series, including beating the Australians in the one-day series which was a good step and a confidence booster for us.
“So it’s a step along the way to becoming hopefully the best side in the world.”