Flower calls for England focus
Andy Flower has serious misgivings with the decision review system, but accepts England cannot afford to spend the series against South Africa grumbling about it.
The England team director is put off by “illogical” elements to the ICC’s new procedure to try to reduce to a minimum bad decisions in Test matches.
The system is already generating controversy - specifically so far on day three of the first Test at Centurion when Stuart Broad was given out after a 33-second delay as South Africa pondered whether to challenge an initial not-out lbw decision.
Irrespective of those complications, however, Flower has made it clear where he stands on the issue.
“I personally don’t like it much,” he said. “I don’t like the questioning of the umpires in the middle by the players and the stoppages that it produces.”
Flower and his charges were today relaxing before stepping up their preparations for the second Test, due to start on Boxing Day at Kingsmead.
There and in the final two matches in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Flower knows that England must try to make the DRS work for them.
“It looks as if it’s here to stay. Certainly it’s going to stay for this series,” he said.
“So there’s no point in us grumbling about it. We’ve just got to get on with it and make sure we deal with it efficiently.”
As for the future of the new system, Flower makes no secret of the fact he hopes it does not have one - in its current form.
“I’m not a policy-maker, and really my ideas on this don’t count that much,” he said.
“But I think there are some illogical things about it. For instance, we’ve got the technology there to review no-balls every ball - and we don’t actually use it.”
England’s Kevin Pietersen was bowled in the first innings at Centurion by a delivery proven, by the time he had left the pitch, to be a front-foot no-ball.
It was the circumstances of Broad’s dismissal, however, which were taken up by Flower with ICC match referee Roshan Mahanama.
“There is no clear indication of exactly how much time you can take (to decide whether to call for one of your two permitted reviews per innings),” said Flower.
“But they do want a reasonably brief exchange of views and then a decision made on whether you want a review or not.”
England fared poorly, compared with their opponents, with their review attempts.
But it was a collapse from 169 for three at tea on the final day to 228 for nine at stumps which left them on the brink of defeat.
Flower is far too smart to ignore the vulnerabilities England displayed, reflecting on the last-ditch survival reminiscent of last summer’s first Ashes Test.
“After the Cardiff Test, it was almost like winning a Test match,” he said.
“This one is slightly different because we were in a very strong position to draw the game for most of the last day.
“Of course, we’re relieved - after losing those wickets to the last new ball - to get out of it with a draw.
“We go into the second Test pretty confident, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Flower will not be underestimating lofty opponents, who are hoping to have both all-rounder Jacques Kallis and pace bowler Dale Steyn fully fit again to add to already considerable pace-bowling resources.
“They were number one in the world just recently, and we are nowhere near that sort of ranking,” Flower said. “We respect them, but we also know that we can beat them; we’ve just done that in the one-day series.”
England, meanwhile, must again grapple with the thorny selection topics of whether to pick Ian Bell as a sixth, specialist batsman or accommodate a fifth specialist bowler or all-rounder.
“That’s always a tricky decision to make, and in our review of this last Test match we will assess whether we had enough (bowling) firepower,” Flower said.