Flower defends England conduct
Team director Andy Flower gave a ringing endorsement of England's on-pitch behaviour.
Last Updated: 21/10/11 4:01pm
Andy Flower gave a ringing endorsement of England's on-pitch behaviour under Alastair Cook's captaincy.
The England coach found himself answering many more questions about the tourists' conduct in the middle than their descent to an early defeat against India in the five-match one-day international series.
Two matches remain to be played, and England already know the game is up at 3-0 to India.
Yet after home captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's pointed remarks about behaviour towards team-mates and opponents, and then a fine of around £250 for Tim Bresnan - for snatching his cap from umpire Sudhir Asnani in yesterday's defeat in Mohali - Flower appeared well aware which subject would be topping the agenda.
He began with a glowing character reference for Bresnan and mitigation for his behaviour, as well as that of the Yorkshireman's fellow seamer Jade Dernbach, at the Punjabi CA Stadium.
Flower described Bresnan's punishment by International Cricket Council match referee Roshan Mahanama as "harsh".
But he also revealed Mahanama had spoken to both Cook and Dhoni about their teams' behaviour in an especially heated second ODI in Delhi on Monday, and backed that intervention.
"Tim Bresnan is an outstanding young man with a very good disciplinary record," said Flower.
"To be quite honest, I think in this instance it is a harsh judgment - in that it was quite a frustrating over for him."
Bresnan, who did not bowl as well as he can, lost his cool after a vexing 18th over of the India run chase.
"His snatching of a cap was done out of frustration at five overthrows and an edge down to the third-man boundary, as opposed to any dissent or any decision," added the coach.
"I have no problem at all with Tim's behaviour. He has an outstanding conduct record.
"They've made their judgment, and whether or not we disagree with it is by the by. I think we all move on now."
Flower acknowledges his England charges must strike an acceptable balance between playing hard and upholding the spirit of the game - and he believes they are doing so.
"Every sportsman has to consider that balance, and in the main I think our cricketers are excellent role models and conduct themselves in the way that passionate English sportspeople should do.
"The match referee, after the second one-day international, spoke to both captains about the conduct of both sides - and I think he was right to do that.
"I think in that second game there was too much 'talk' out in the middle.
"After all, we play the game as a game of skill and you're there to 'out-skill' your opponents.
"Yes, there is a difference between passion and poor conduct and, in almost all occasions, I think our guys are excellent at finding that balance."
Flower was also at pains to speak up for Dernbach, who - like Bresnan - leaked runs badly as India wrapped up the series.
"You're making a judgment on his body language not being great," he said.
"I thought his body language, in the main, showed that he cared about winning the game or contributing towards winning the game for England.
"He'd just had a catch dropped and that is frustrating. It was a very tense part of the game.
"Of course, that balance is there to be found and I think all of our players have a responsibility to find it."
Flower saved perhaps his sturdiest defence, though, for Jonathan Trott.
The England number three underpinned a total of 298-4 on Thursday, with the significant free-scoring help of Kevin Pietersen and Samit Patel.
Even then, England were unable to defend the total and the rationale in some quarters was that Trott's mid-80s innings strike-rate was part of the problem.
Flower takes issue with that, though, comparing Trott's methods and effectiveness with Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene, who was lauded for a World Cup final century which kept his team in with a chance against eventual winners India in Mumbai five months ago.
"You say that his strike rate is low," said Flower. "Is his strike rate any lower than Mahela Jayawardene's in one-day cricket?
"Check those stats."
Trott has the best ODI average of any England player in history to boot.
"Since he started playing one-day cricket for England, he has been very consistent - and that consistency has helped us score bigger totals," said Flower.
"I think, if anything, some of the players around him have under-performed with the bat, and I think he's playing good cricket.
"Until a better player comes along, Jonathan Trott will play."
Whatever the reasons, though, Flower accepts England, who beat India 3-0 at home in September, have been below their best in this rematch.
"We haven't played well out here," he said. "We intend to do something about that.
"The Indian team are a more confident unit out here. They struggled to adapt to our conditions, and I think at the moment we have been a little slow to adapt to theirs.
"It is your job to do that as quickly as possible. We haven't, and therefore we've lost this series."