No time for experimenting - Flower
Andy Flower has no intention of sending out an experimental England side in the forthcoming one-day series against Bangladesh.
Flower has a number of international rookies in his ranks on this tour, including explosive wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter, Yorkshire all-rounder Ajmal Shahzad and Kent spinner James Tredwell.
All three have played in both of England’s warm-up matches against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI this week, and each has staked a claim for further inspection.
Kieswetter announced himself with a muscular 143 on Tuesday - his first knock in senior England colours - while both Shahzad and Tredwell did well in today’s eight-wicket win in Fatullah.
Alastair Cook, restored to the side as captain after a spell in the limited-overs wilderness, has also impressed with back-to-back half-centuries, both at better than a run a ball.
That means when Sunday’s first ODI starts Flower could send out a team much-changed from the one which triumphed in the last series against South Africa.
But if that is the case, the Zimbabwean coach insists it is not out of disrespect for the lowly-ranked Tigers. Indeed, with the World Cup in this part of the world next year, Flower sees the series as a vital chance to give his best side experience of the conditions.
“I don’t think this is a tour for just giving players a go,” he said. “It’s a competitive tour between two international sides. We respect Bangladesh and that is how we’ll be playing it.
“With the World Cup being held on the sub-continent in 2011 it is important our guys get experience on these kind of decks.
“There is a certain type of game that you play here in the one-day format so for everyone here it is an important workout before the World Cup.
“I think, as always, it’s a balance. We’re looking for balance. We haven’t looked at the pitch for Sunday yet, so we’ll assess conditions before we make a decision on the balance between spin and seam.”
The wicketkeeping position is one that is likely to cause Flower more problems than he may have envisaged when he announced the squad.
So confident was he in Matt Prior’s status as first-choice that no cover was selected for the one-day leg.
Since then Kieswetter has barged his way into contention and was handed the gloves today for the first time. But Prior immediately reminded Flower why he is in the England side, crashing nine fours in his 64 not out.
“There are selection issues, yes,” Flower admitted. “We have a couple of those but that is a healthy place to be.
“Craig Kieswetter has got a very good chance. He’s in very good form, he scored runs every time he went to wicket for the Lions in Dubai and he came here and got 143, so he’s got a very good chance.
“We’ve got our ideas about what we want to do but I can’t tell you now exactly what our position is. You’ll see on Sunday morning.
“Matt Prior you saw bat very nicely today and Kieswetter obviously did on Tuesday. They’ve both had a go with the gloves and are both good, efficient keepers. It’s a good position to be in.”
Flower’s policy means Stuart Broad and Paul Collingwood are both likely to be restored to the starting XI when the series gets under way.
Vice-captain Collingwood missed today’s comfortable win after hitting a rapid hundred in the first warm-up match, while Broad was excused from action on both occasions.
Flower confirmed there were no specific concerns over either player.
“Colly’s 33 years old and he’s put his body thorough a lot,” said Flower. “We have to look at these opportunities to rest him.
“Stuart is quite comfortable with where he is as a bowler. We just need to look after him and manage his physical workload.”
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