Flower plays down Ashes impact
Team director Andy Flower insists the result of England's final NatWest Series match against Australia at Lord's tomorrow will have no bearing on this winter's Ashes.
England had to wave goodbye to their hopes of a series whitewash as they suffered a 78-run loss at the Brit Oval on Wednesday.
Flower does not believe the result of tomorrow's clash at HQ will have a worthwhile impact on England's Ashes defence, but admits a 4-1 victory over the world's number-one ranked ODI team would be a significant result.
“Of course, 4-1 would be excellent for us - and we will be giving everything to do that,” he promised.
“This is another important one-day international. Whenever you are representing your country, especially against such quality opposition, you will do everything in your power to win the game.
“But now the series is already won, I don't think tomorrow's result will have huge implications for what happens in Australia towards the end of the year.
“Every win you have against certain opponents grows your self-belief and confidence - and they are very important elements in competitive sport.
“We are always looking at ways to grow our confidence, and there is no better way to do that than playing well and winning against quality opposition.”
Captain Andrew Strauss has been at pains to stress ODI successes cannot reasonably equate to the Ashes. Yet planning has long been underway for next winter - and Eoin Morgan, for one, has provided Flower with plenty of food for thought so far this summer.
The middle-order batsman has added a match-winning hundred at the Rose Bowl and another half-century to his ICC World Twenty20 exploits.
But Flower, who saw Morgan get two starts but fail to kick on in two Test innings against Bangladesh, while Paul Collingwood was out with a shoulder injury, has no urge to shoe-horn the left-hander back into the five-day team as Ashes preparation.
“I personally don't feel any pressure in trying to get him great exposure at Test level, before he has forced his way into the side or until - through someone else's misfortune, because of injury - he gets another chance,” he said.
Whoever represents England as they try to win the Ashes down under for the first time in almost a quarter of a century, Flower is well aware there will be specific and rarefied requirements.
The return of Shaun Tait in the NatWest Series is a reminder of the pace available to Australia and which is bound to be prevalent in Perth and elsewhere.
Even if Tait is not physically capable of a five-day return, Australia have several other contenders on the way back from injuries - as well as Ryan Harris, who took five wickets at the Oval.
“Without doubt, pace will play a big part on those bouncier pitches,” said Flower.
“But I think we are getting a posse of bowlers together that will be able to hold their own.
“The early introduction of (Steven) Finn against Bangladesh may bear some fruit in Australia.
“We are getting together a group of fast bowlers that will be able to dovetail, on form and fitness grounds, and be quite dangerous.
“The batsmen will have to get up to speed too with the quicker wickets in Australia. That is why we are going out to play three tour matches first.”