Flower sees bright future
Andy Flower is expecting big things from England’s World Twenty20 squad in years to come.
The team director’s charges were unable to defend the World T20 title in Sri Lanka, losing to the hosts by 19 runs at Pallekele to exit at the Super Eight stage.
Samit Patel’s 48-ball 67 was England’s highlight yesterday and earlier in the tournament fellow batsmen Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales shone with respective top scores of 99, 71 and 68.
Steven Finn was England’s leading wicket-taker with eight, one more than captain Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.
“These guys have got great futures ahead of them,” Flower said of the 15-man squad. “But we weren’t good enough here.
“We’ve learned a lot about everyone in our group. When you are tested, in competition, being asked questions under pressure, you learn a lot about people. In a lot of little ways, this will be a memorable trip.”
Needing to win yesterday to progress, England conceded 169 for six as Broad took 3-32 and Swann 2-26.
Lasith Malinga’s three wickets in an over left an early dent in the reply and Patel became Malinga’s fifth victim to all but decide the outcome.
“The fact of the matter is we didn’t play well enough,” Flower added. “Last night was a quarter-final, effectively, and we weren’t good enough to beat Sri Lanka on their home soil.
“There were little sparks of positive play, but they were more streetwise than us and obviously deserved to win. It’s sad we’re leaving this early, but that is a fact of life.”
England began the competition with a 116-run win over Afghanistan but lost to India by 90 runs in their other Group A game.
In the Super Eights they suffered a 15-run defeat to West Indies before seeing off New Zealand by six wickets to maintain their hopes of progressing.
However, Sri Lanka knocked them out for the second straight International Cricket Council competition, having done so in last year's World Cup quarter-final.
“I think the loss against India knocked the confidence a little,” Flower admitted. “But we made the second round, and then won only one of those three matches - so we didn’t deserve to get through. There was no momentum.
“These young players will have got a great deal out of it. But as everyone knows, world tournaments aren’t for the learning curve; they’re to be won - and we haven’t done that.”
For now Flower can take a well-earned rest - but not for long before he starts plotting with new Test captain Alastair Cook how England can defy the expectations of many by taming India on their home patch.
“I see it as a great challenge for us, out in the sub-continent,” Flower said before reflecting on losing their number-one Test status.
“Trying to win in India is tough, but therefore exciting. I wouldn’t relate it to anything that’s gone in the past this year. That will be a challenge on its own.”