Australia not as bad as some people think, says England coach Andy Flower

Andy Flower (above) feels Joe Root is the best opening partner for Alastair Cook © Getty Images

London: Jun 30, 2013

England coach Andy Flower has insisted his side won’t take Australia lightly when they face the “different challenge” of starting the Ashes as firm favourites.

England have won the last two Ashes series, with their most recent success a 3-1 series win in Australia in 2010/11.

Now, on home soil, against an Australia who on Monday sacked coach Mickey Arthur and have been beset by problems on and off the field, with David Warner suspended until the first Test following his Birmingham bar attack on England’s Joe Root.

Without retired batting greats Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, Australia are struggling to re-assert themselves following a 4-0 series loss in India.

But Flower believes that England, who recently won a two-match series against New Zealand 2-0, aren’t as good as some have suggested while Australia are certainly not as bad as those who’ve labelled Michael Clarke’s men the worst Australian outfit to come to England in 30 years.

“The 2009 Ashes were probably won against expectation and winning away was again I’d say won against expectation because Australia had such an amazing record at home before we beat them there,” Flower told Saturday’s Daily Mail.

“Now we’re expected to win and that does bring a different challenge,” the former Zimbabwe batsman added.

“Yes, we go into this series as favourites but anyone who knows about the game would also admit that we aren’t as good as some people are saying and the Australians are not as poor as some people are saying.

“We know that they will be dangerous and we respect them as such.But we also know we are a very good Test side and have a group of players who are excellent fighters.”

Flower also had some consoling words for Nick Compton, overlooked for England’s warm-up game against Essex, with national selector Geoff Miller saying Joe Root was “currently the best opening partner for Alastair Cook“.

Although Compton, the grandson of England great Denis, scored back-to-back hundreds in New Zealand this year, he struggled for runs in the home series against the Black Caps.

However, he pressed his case with 81 for Somerset against Australia at Taunton this week and will have another chance when he appears for Worcestershire against the tourists next week.

“You never know what’s round the corner. He must ensure he’s in pole position should anything unfortunate occur to the men in possession. Runs against Australia for Somerset were the perfect start,” Flower added.
“He’s very hungry to succeed and I love seeing that hunger in a player.