England are playing true to their standing, says coach Flower

June 13th, 2009 - 7:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Virender Sehwag London, June 13 (IANS) Unlike his predecessors who tried to syrup coat the defeats, England cricket coach Andy Flower does not mince words in stating that his team is playing the game in accordance with their world ranking.
“I am not sure where we are ranked in Twenty20 international cricket, but in 50 overs we are sixth in the world and at the moment that is the level we are performing at in 20 overs as well,” Flower said.

“I think it is a reflection of where we are as a team. We were very disappointing against South Africa, who pretty much dominated.”

England coaches in the past tried to be soft on their players, but Zimbabwean Flower is realistic in his assessment of the team, leaving no-one in any illusion about their chances in the ongoing World Twenty20.

For England to defy the odds and win the championship a week tomorrow, they must first win both the remaining group games plus a semi-final and final against much better-rated teams, reports The Times.

Losing to India, the holders, at the Lord’s Sunday would result in elimination unless other results allow them to scrape through on run-rate.

The scale of improvement required can be placed in perspective by England’s combined record in the competitions here and in South Africa in 2007: two wins, against Zimbabwe and Pakistan, in eight matches overall. So, to suggest that they are inconsistent, the adjective commonly applied, is flattering. The truth is that England have been depressingly consistent.

The gulf at Trent Bridge cannot be bridged in a day or two. Players were given permission to return home after the game and they gather again Saturday morning, when the balance of the side, which looked a batsman light, will come under scrutiny. Flower described the batting against South Africa as “very ordinary”. Eoin Morgan may be recalled and Graham Napier could replace Dimitri Mascarenhas.

While Flower echoed Paul Collingwood’s view that England will get nowhere playing conservative cricket — obviously the buzz phrase at the moment — there is still a place for discretion in the powerplay overs. Even the target laid down by Collingwood of a minimum of 40 runs from the first six overs can be achieved without the indiscriminate swinging, to which Luke Wright, for one, is prone.

“There is a blend of attack and good decision-making that you have to find,” Flower said. “It is not just crash, bang, wallop all the time. There is a lot of thought that goes into that crash, bang, wallop, a skill to playing the right shot at the right time.”

Flower has a high opinion of Broad and also praised Adil Rashid, whose wrist spin has held up against good players so far. Rashid turns his leg break, bowls a googly and undid AB de Villiers with bounce. But a small target meant that South Africa did not have to take him on and the Indians, the best players of spin in the world, will provide a truer test of his twirl.

Given the emphasis that England are placing on the value of Indian Premier League (IPL) experience - or lack of it - the absence of Napier so far is surprising. He is one of only four players in the squad who played in the event this year and also has a good record with Essex. The problem for English cricket is that players who most need exposure to IPL are, by definition, the least likely to interest the franchises.

England have played more Twenty20 internationals than India — 18 games to 16 — but were beaten heavily in the single meeting in Durban two years ago, best remembered for Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes in an over by Stuart Broad.

India were rewarded then for their commitment to young players and Rohit Sharma, opening in the absence of Virender Sehwag, is rated potentially the best batsman to represent them since Sachin Tendulkar.

– Indo-Asian News Service


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