Flower dispels talk of complacency
England team director Andy Flower has dismissed as “crazy” the idea that the tourists could succumb to misplaced self-satisfaction after going 1-0 up in the Ashes.
They did so in Adelaide by a crushing innings and 71 runs - their biggest winning margin Down Under for more than 40 years.
But none of that means Flower is about to tear up the manual favoured by him and captain Andrew Strauss, and full of hard-work and team-ethos mantras.
Asked whether there is a danger of England becoming too happy for their own good with their early Ashes lead, Flower said: “Not at all.
“How can we be complacent - we’re ranked number four in the world? We’ve got a long way to go, and we’re only 1-0 up in a five-Test series. So that would be a crazy way to think.”
England’s victory at the Adelaide Oval yesterday means they can now retain the urn before Christmas, if they follow up with another success in the third Test in Perth.
Before then, though, they have a tour match on their hands - against Victoria at the MCG, from Friday - and Flower sees it as another crucial fixture.
It presents an opportunity for the nucleus of Strauss’ team to fine-tune their talents to another Test venue.
They will be back in Melbourne on Boxing Day, when James Anderson should be among their number again.
The fast bowler flew from Adelaide last night to be at the birth of his second child in the UK, but will rejoin the tourists in time to take part at the WACA next week.
In the meantime, Flower has a chance to determine which of England’s back-up seamers will step into the Test team in place of the injured Stuart Broad.
Chris Tremlett, Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan are the men in question. But Flower discounted the theory that the three will be involved in a ’bowl-off’ at the MCG.
“I wouldn’t describe it that way - because you don’t judge people on one performance,” he said.
“Obviously, we have ideas in mind who would replace Broad. But we will get 270 overs of viewing our potential replacement.”
Broad suffered an abdominal tear on the penultimate afternoon of the second Test and will therefore miss the rest of the series and the following one-day rubber.
Flower is sympathetic to Broad’s disappointment, but confirmed England have long had contingency plans for such injuries.
“It’s really unlucky, because he’s been an integral part of our side and our relative successes over the last couple of years,” he said. “It’s not good for him; it’s not good for the side. But these things happen.
“We weren’t totally naive in thinking we’d get through the whole Test series without injuries to any of our quicks. We thought it was a priority to get some of our back-up quicks into good nick.”
That happened when England sent Broad, Steven Finn, Anderson and off-spinner Graeme Swann to Brisbane to acclimatise early for the first Test last month - while others shared the bowling duties against Australia A in Tasmania.
Tremlett took the honours statistically there, but all three fared encouragingly.
“They had a good run-out in Hobart; they’ll get another one here against the Vics - and you’ve got to factor these things in,” Flower added.
“It’s very unlucky for Stuart - I know he’s really upset to miss out on the conclusion to the Ashes series - but that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.”
As for the attributes required by England’s new selection in Perth, Flower explained: “I’d prefer to emphasise some of the qualities of whoever takes his place, rather than that person to be another Stuart Broad.
“They are individuals with their own qualities that should be celebrated, and used.”
While England can contemplate just one injury-enforced change for the next Test, wholesale alterations are being mooted for Australia’s squad.
There have even been fanciful calls in the media for the return from retirement, at the age of 41, of master leg-spinner Shane Warne.
One group of Queensland businessmen have reportedly called for a million-dollar kitty fund to tempt Warne back.
Flower’s response, though, was predictably insouciant. “I’ve heard about some of the figures he earns - they might need to get some more contributions together there,” he suggested.