Flower admitted that Panesar should have been in the side for the first Test
England head coach Andy Flower had admitted that he and the rest of the selection committee made some fatal errors when picking the team for the first Test against India at Ahmedabad, hence the reason why they lost the match by nine wickets.
Flower noted that spinner Monty Panesar should have been included in the side, but conceded that he had misread the pitch conditions.
However, even though Flower may have made a mistake in the first Test, he has definitely learnt from it and England have benefited from it in the second and third Test as a result.
“With hindsight yes, it was a mistake not to play Panesar in Ahmedabad,” Flower said. “I didn’t expect that pitch to turn as early as it did. In fact, once we saw it turning early in the game I thought it might deteriorate more and I was surprised on day four and five how well it played. I certainly misjudged that pitch.
“There might be a little more bounce in Mumbai which will help our seamers. Of course we have to bring in a batsman, but on any other changes I’d like to see the pitch first. Then I’ll try to make a better judgment than the last one. If it looks as though it will turn a lot, we will contemplate two spinners.
“I don’t think our seamers bowled as well as they could have and the skill with reverse swing and finding the right length to hit the pads is a particular skill. I think India did that better than we did. Their seamers out-bowled our seamers, but I also think we gave them a couple of soft dismissals.”
Despite having a 2-1 lead in the series heading into the fourth and final Test at Nagpur, Flower stated that it would be a huge mistake to underestimate India since they know their home turf better than anyone and added that they still have the chance to end the series as a 2-2 draw.
Prior to the start of the India series, England had only won one out of the six Test matches they played in the Subcontinent this year and Flower noted that “he would like to think” there was nothing wrong with the team when it came down to playing in these types of conditions.
However, Flower also joked about how England would only play spinners in the warm up matches when India visit for their next tour.
“We have to overturn what seems predictable the moment,” he said. “There are some very basic things that we haven’t done well enough and I hope I’m not making personal excuses here. I don’t think it’s anything to do with the environment, or team dynamics, or the way we train. I think that we have failed in a number of first innings and if you do that in the subcontinent you pay the price. That’s the area where we have failed and I don’t think we should over-complicate it. I hope there is no real reason why it should keep happening in the first innings.
“If we’d batted in the first innings like we batted in the second it might have been a different story. Those three wickets hurt us at the end of day two, obviously, and the ball turned quite sharply and quite quickly in that first innings. And there were a few soft dismissals which cost us.”
Flower is also concerned that batsman Kevin Pietersen is still showing signs of weakness against left-arm spinners, but believes that it is only a matter of time before he figures out how to play them.
“Look, Kevin’s a very fine cricketer,” Flower added. “In this last Test the left-arm spinner got him out twice and he obviously struggled against him. But, only a few Tests ago against Sri Lanka, he scored a magnificent 150 and they had a reasonable left-arm spinner playing in subcontinent conditions. The method he used there was a very successful one. I’m not just talking about his very attacking method but his defensive one too. He’s a very experienced cricketer and I trust he’ll bring that experience to bear in the next Test match.”