Ashes party is already over, says England coach Flower

Last Updated: Dec 30, 2010, 10:37 AM IST

Melbourne: England coach Andy Flower has dismissed talk of a new era for English cricket a day after his team`s retention of the Ashes and said celebrations had already wrapped up and focus shifted to the fifth and final Test.

England sealed the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years courtesy of a thumping innings and 157-run victory over Australia in the fourth Test in Melbourne on Wednesday. They lead the series 2-1.

"We had some really special times in the changing room yesterday afternoon and I know that for all the cricketers, those are times that you cherish -- when they`ve fought hard and they`ve come out on top and can enjoy each other`s success and each other`s company," the school-masterly 42-year-old told reporters at the team`s hotel on Thursday.

"We celebrated yesterday and it`s time to move on now."

"Everyone involved with this tour will feel a lot of pride about the way the guys have played, but I think it`s much too early to be feeling satisfied, that`s for sure."

"We want to climb the ladder, as I`ve said before, in the world rankings. We`re still ranked three or four in the world. There are a lot of things out there for us to aim for."

Flower, a former wicketkeeper and captain for Zimbabwe, was appointed in April last year and in little more than four months had guided England to a 2-1 win over Ricky Ponting`s team in the home Ashes series.

Flower has enjoyed a good relationship with captain Andrew Strauss and the two have been credited for bringing discipline and meticulous planning to a team once riven by clashing egos.

Flower brushed off his part in England`s renaissance, but paid tribute to his team`s bowlers, who skittled Australia for 98 in the first innings in Melbourne, then ended their batsmen`s attempt to salvage the match before lunch on day four.

"The balance between attack and defence between batsmen has always been a tricky balance to find and the job of the bowler is to put them under pressure," he said.

"Our bowlers were able to create pressure through their skills, they were moving the ball sideways enough to create chances or half-chances."

"I thought (Graeme) Swann`s spell of bowling on a pitch that wasn`t turning was one of the outstanding spell`s of bowling I`ve seen from him," Flower said of the spinner, who removed Australia`s best player of spin, Michael Clarke, on day three.

"I know he didn`t get a huge haul of wickets, but the pressure he created from one end, I thought he showed incredible skill."

England bowling coach David Saker had played a big part in preparing England`s attack and Flower said he was hopeful the coach would not be tempted home, like fellow Australian Troy Cooley, who helped England plan their 2005 home series defeat of Australia before returning to the fold.

"I haven`t seen many men coming into a group not knowing anyone really and integrate as easily as he did which is testament to his character."

"We`d love to have him around for much longer, he`s very good at what he does, I hope he doesn`t get poached and I`m pretty sure that he`ll be committing himself to us very soon."

While England`s collective efforts have trumped the hosts` reliance on a few brilliant cameos throughout the series, the tourists have had one weak link in the form of Paul Collingwood, who has had a forgettable series with the bat.

Pundits have called for Collingwood to be dropped or demoted to allow the in-form Ian Bell play at number five, but Flower said he was not interesting in tinkering with the side.

"He`s a had a bit of a tough series," Flower said of Collingwood, who has scored 70 runs in five innings for an average of 14 in the series.

"But yes, his job is to score runs like all of our batsmen and he`ll be looking to do that in Sydney."

"You don`t experiment with people`s careers, no is the answer to that, we will pick what we think is the side that has the best chance to win in Sydney, and that`s simple as that."

Bureau Report