Cow Corner

Flower leadership vital for England future

Cow Corner

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Inevitably, there is always a failure just around the corner from any success. Just ask Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he travelled to England full of confidence with his side top of the Test rankings and having just won the World Cup on home soil.

As much as all and sundry were gleefully showering England with praise after their summer exploits, there were few willing to defend those at the helm following a shambolic and frankly insipid showing in the one-day internationals in India.

There has been no point attempting to even thinly veil or mask the tourists' alarming deficiencies and failings highlighted in agonising fashion on the tour of India, but equally a sense of perspective is badly needed at such times.

Among some of the more ludicrous outcries in the bloody aftermath of a humiliating five-match trouncing at the hands of the world champions, were calls for the head of England's esteemed head coach Andy Flower.

Make no mistake about it, there was no man more shell-shocked, more chastened and less accepting of England's dismal failure than Flower after the final ODI.

England have now won just one ODI out of 18 since 2002 - a truly appalling statistic for all followers of the team. But it was the startling nature of their pusillanimous batting which so deeply hurt their coach's pride.

Whatever England fans and esteemed pundits make of Flower's credentials as a coach - and he has been rightly lauded for the work he has done in his post - one thing which can never be levelled at the man is a lack of pride or determination in what he does.

Flower was a truly inspirational and trustworthy batsman, a talisman in every sense and a man who would have rather been caught with a shoddy strike-rate than dismissed cheaply amid a catastrophic collapse.

England lost a woeful 10 wickets for 47 runs in what will go down as one of the most inept and spineless displays of resistance by an international side wearing pyjamas ever witnessed, but don't put that at the coach's door.

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No one can accuse Flower or anyone else of a lack of foresight or preparation: England's management were entirely committed to ensuring that the players would be left with no excuses.

England enjoyed the relative luxury of 10 full days of preparation as a period of adjustment to conditions they can no longer call 'unfamiliar' and expect subsequent mitigation. The series was promptly lost in 11 days.

What is more disturbing: the fact that England merely emulated the 5-0 thrashing administered to them by India in November 2008, or that they succumbed to a side devoid of a large cluster of its key players?

The absence of Eoin Morgan - as sorely felt as it undoubtedly was - is rendered an entirely marginal setback when one is presented with the comprehensive and lengthy list of sidelined top-class talent India were forced to contend without.

Quite simply, excuses will not wash. Such is the expanse of wealth in terms of staff and resources available to England that the players have nothing to cite for their shortcomings outside of what they have produced on the field.

Graeme Swann's Twenty20 side restored some pride and salvaged a solitary victory against India and it represented an encouraging reminder of how a united, happy and spirited England side can function.

It may have been a gloomy and largely depressing tour for England, but Flower's supposedly underfire group return home still top of the world rankings in two different formats. The less said about the other format the better.

Flower is arguably the shrewdest operator in world cricket at this moment in time, and England must do everything possible to remind their coveted coach that his position is both entirely secure and deeply valued.

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