Flower enjoys day in the sun
Andy Flower today permitted a brief moment of satisfaction at a job wonderfully well done by England - before they move on to the all-important challenge of staying on top of the world.
England took the last seven India wickets for only 21 runs at the Kia Oval yesterday, to complete a 4-0 npower Test series whitewash with an innings victory.
After the general euphoria had died down - and a sell-out crowd made their way home - Flower and Andrew Strauss’ team held their own low-key celebration, transporting a box of chilled drinks out to camp just off the square for a few moments to reflect together on their achievement.
There will be precious little time for any more of the same before a rush of England limited-overs assignments begins when Eoin Morgan leads his adopted country for the first time against his native one in Dublin on Thursday.
There is much longer - five months until January when they head to the United Arab Emirates to take on Pakistan - for England to plot how they defend their new world-beating Test status.
While Flower is noted for his resistance to the slightest hint of complacency, and can be counted on to be thinking already about the way forward in all formats, he judges it only right too that England are given due praise for their rise to the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
“It gives me tremendous satisfaction, but it is the players we have to think about,” said the team director.
“I looked at them in the changing room after the game, and they can rightly feel very proud of themselves.
“They’ve put in a tremendous amount of hard work to get themselves into a place where they feel very confident and where they are making good decisions - and then are good enough to back them up out in the middle.”
England’s winning recipe has centred on collective support for one another towards a common aim, but it has also been achieved on the back of a stream of outstanding individual performances.
Ian Bell’s prolific batting form has been a revelation over the past 12 months; Stuart Broad was named man of the series for his all-round heroics, especially in the second Test on his home ground in Nottingham; and Kevin Pietersen is back to somewhere near his considerable best.
There is no one in the team, though, undeserving of special mention.
Flower believes success is breeding success and insists England’s emphatic victory should not be devalued by those decrying India, for whom only Rahul Dravid has performed in keeping with his status among a clutch of superstars.
“It is nice to see the team like that and see them genuinely confident and it’s nice to see them believing that they will win games of cricket,” he added.
“They have dominated a very good side here, and I don’t think we should forget that.
“There are some very fine cricketers in that Indian side, and they have been performing at a high level for a very long time.
“They are hugely experienced, so to play like we did and to dominate them like we did is a great credit to these England players.”