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“I think it’s fair to say that with the bat we’ve underperformed badly”
England head coach Andy Flower has admitted that he was impressed with the way Australia “regrouped” to win the ongoing Ashes series after being thrashed 3-0 in the last series in July and August.
Flower was also quick to admit that England had “underperformed badly” with the bat and needed to rethink their strategy and approach prior to the start of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
“If I’m being totally honest, I’d have to give a lot of credit to the Australians for the way they’ve regrouped after the English summer,” Flower told Sky Sports. “In fact, they started rebuilding during that series.
“Darren Lehmann and the captain must take a lot of credit for the way they have re-jigged things and got their side into an aggressive frame of mind.
“They’ve also performed very skilfully with the ball, keeping our guys under pressure throughout.
“I think it’s fair to say that with the bat we’ve underperformed badly. We’ve only got one Test century to think seven of theirs. And that’s from a young all-rounder playing in his second Test match (Ben Stokes).
“We haven’t handled the pace that well. And I think the pace of Johnson has been really well backed up by Harris and Siddle – they’ve been accurate and skilful – and the off-spinner (Nathan Lyon) has bowled nicely, too.
“The combination of the extra pace and some skilful back-up has not allowed us off the hook.”
Flower also denied that England had underestimated Australia, especially after they beat them with relative ease in the last Ashes series.
“Any touring side that comes to Australia knows it’s going to be a tough tour,” he said. “We’ve always come here with that knowledge. When we came here in 2010 we came with the same knowledge – we played some outstanding cricket to win that series.
“I don’t think we’ve underestimated them – they have just played some outstanding cricket to beat us as soundly as they have.”
When asked about his future as England’s head coach, Flower said: “We’ve got two Test matches left in this series and I’m absolutely hungry to do well in those. That is as far as I’m looking at the moment.”
However, Flower lauded all-rounder Ben Stokes for his outstanding knock of 120 on the final day of the third Test in Perth.
“I felt he handled himself really well in Adelaide in some pretty intense situations, and then done brilliantly here,” Flower said. “It was a superb knock. He showed a lot of maturity and a lot of talent. He looked good with the ball as well. He’s only two Tests into his career, but that was a brilliant performance from him.”