Flower demands final flourish

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Andy Flower

Andy Flower today said: "We celebrated yesterday, and it's time to move on now"

England must cast aside any feelings of premature satisfaction at retaining the Ashes in Melbourne - because their urn will be empty if they do not clinch series victory in Sydney.

Team director Andy Flower insists the job is simply not yet finished, and is confident all his players feel exactly the same way.

Preparation will begin in earnest on New Year's Day for the start of the final Test at the SCG, where the tourists must protect their 2-1 lead.

Australia's troubles - including the unavailability through injury of captain Ricky Ponting - are of little interest to Flower, who has maintained all along that England must focus primarily on themselves rather than the opposition.

He allowed his team an afternoon and evening of celebration after their innings-and-157-run trouncing of Australia well inside four days, but as of today those high spirits must stop.

"We celebrated yesterday, and it's time to move on now,” Flower said.

"We had some really special times in the changing room yesterday afternoon - and I know for all the cricketers those are times you cherish, when they've fought hard and come out on top.

"Then they can enjoy each other's success, and each other's company for a little period of time in the sanctuary of the dressing room.

"The families joined us for a short time, and the guys enjoyed having their loved ones around too to share it with.”

Flower continued: "I am very proud of the way the guys have played throughout this tour, and the Melbourne performance was an outstanding one.

"I'm sure the players feel that way. But we also realise that there's a lot of cricket ahead on this tour, and a lot of cricket to be played in this fifth Test.

Graeme Swann

Flower praised Graeme Swann, whose 29 overs at the MCG cost just 60 runs

"We came out here to win this series - and we'll be doing everything we can to do that."

England fly to Sydney tomorrow, and Flower does not anticipate any problems with the tourists readying themselves mentally for their next challenge - having made an excellent job of that task between their third-Test defeat in Perth and that victory in the fourth at the MCG.

"You've got to draw a line under previous matches and start again," he explained.

"That is what our guys have to do. There is a lot of talk about momentum, but we've seen in this series that is not actually all-important.

"We will draw a line under this win and try to go out and win in Sydney."

England's achievement to date this winter is reward for much meticulous homework, but Flower is adamant there is no reason for too many pats on the back yet.

"When we were preparing for this series, all the guys knew the size of the task ahead - and they worked very hard for any success we've had on this tour so far," he added.

"Everyone involved in this tour will feel a lot of pride about the way the guys have played.

"But I think it's much too early to be feeling satisfied, that's for sure.

"There are other things out there for us to achieve, starting with this next Test match.

"We've got that, the one-day series and the World Cup thereafter - and we want to climb the ladder in the world rankings.

"We're still ranked three or four in the world, and there are a lot of things out there for us to aim for."

As for Australia, England are not about to start under-estimating them now.

Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood's struggle with the bat is not a significant concern to Flower

Under Ponting, the hosts have already inflicted one wide-margin defeat on their Ashes rivals this winter - at the WACA 11 days ago.

Flower will be neither talking up nor talking down Australia - but he knows they can play.

"We respect them; we knew when we came out here it would take some outstanding cricket from us if we were to come out on top in the series - and it's going to take good cricket in this last Test for us to win the series," he predicted.

There was so much to please Flower in Melbourne, though - individually and collectively - and today he chose to highlight the performance of Graeme Swann, who had to settle for just two wickets but conceded only 60 runs in 29 overs on an unresponsive surface.

"Our bowlers were able to create pressure through their skills - moving the ball sideways enough to create chances or half-chances - and I thought Swann's spell of bowling on a pitch that wasn't turning was one of the outstanding spells that I've seen from him," said Flower.

"I know he didn't get a huge haul of wickets, but the pressure he created from one end showed incredible skill."

The only obvious worry for England remains the form of number five Paul Collingwood, who has now gone 10 Test innings without a fifty.

"I'm not over-concerned about Paul Collingwood," said Flower.

"He's an experienced cricketer, a tough bloke - and he adds in all sorts of ways to our side.

"But yes, his job is to score runs - like all of our batsmen - and he'll be looking to do that in Sydney."

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