We're not the finished article - Flower
Andy Flower has warned that England still have a long way to go before they can consider themselves one of the best sides in the world.
Team director Flower can look back with considerable pride on recent results, with last summer's Ashes victory followed up by a one-day series win and Test series draw in South Africa and a recently-completed whitewash in Bangladesh in both forms of the game.
While he is keen to acknowledge the positives from that period, he is clear in his assessment that England remain a work in progress.
Australia, India and South Africa are considered to be the most accomplished outfits in world cricket, a view to which Flower subscribes.
"If I'm quite honest, we've got a way to go if we are to compete with the top couple of sides in the world," he conceded. “We know that from our world ranking of five.
"All in all it has been a very varied and interesting winter for us. We won every game on tour in Bangladesh, which is what we came here to do.
“That's a good achievement I would say. I wouldn't say we have made huge strides forward but I think we have learned quite a lot.
"We have learned that we can compete with the best sides in world by taking on South Africa in South Africa but we have also learned that we weren't strong enough to hold on to a lead in that Test series.
"We've got a lot of hard work and thought that has to go into making us a stronger unit."
Flower now turns his attention to the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, starting next month, followed by a hectic English summer.
He stressed the importance of stringing together a series of results ahead of the Ashes defence in Australia this winter and next year’s World Cup in the sub-continent.
"We've got a very busy schedule leading up to next winter - first the World Twenty20 and then home series against Bangladesh and Pakistan - and those challenges are important in their own right,” he added.
"While next winter is very important for us, with the Ashes and the World Cup, we have to win along the way to create confidence for those challenges ahead."
Captain Andrew Strauss was excused duty in Bangladesh in a bid to avoid burnout at the end of the year, while James Anderson and Paul Collingwood have had their workloads managed carefully in the past.
Resting players will remain an option for Flower, who said: “I think considering our hectic schedule there are a number of people who might get breaks during the English summer and Stuart Broad is one possibility.”
The new Brit Insurance 2010-11 official England Cricket Team kit will be available to pre order from April 1 via ecb.co.uk, and in store from April 29