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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014
Flower salutes 'special' Strauss as England go top
AFP
Birmingham, England, August 15, 2011
First Published: 14:36 IST(15/8/2011)
Last Updated: 14:44 IST(15/8/2011)
England's captain Andrew Strauss celebrates after victory over India on the fourth day of the third Test match between England and India at the Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham.

Andy Flower is looking forward to continuing to work alongside the "outstanding" Andrew Strauss as the pair bid to keep England at the summit of Test cricket.

England's crushing innings and 242-run win over India at Edgbaston, achieved with more than a day to spare, saw them replace the tourists at the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings.

It also meant they went an unbeatable 3-0 up in a four-match series ahead of this week's finale at The Oval.

But the first time the now successful partnership of coach Flower and captain Strauss came together, England were bowled out for 51 by the West Indies in Jamaica.

Asked how England had turned things around, Flower replied: "What is right about this side at the moment is it's got an outstanding leader in Strauss - he really is a special man.

"The players, after being asked to embrace responsibility, have delivered.

"Strauss asked that of them when he took over the captaincy a couple of years ago, and they are repaying him," the former Zimbabwe international added when reflecting on the contribution of his skipper and opening batsman.

But for Flower and Strauss the challenge is to stay at the top.

"Now that we have achieved that, what Strauss and I don't want to do is (just) hang on to the number one status.

"That's not a very exciting way to go about our business.

"We've always had a goal of constant improvement, and that doesn't change just because your ranking points change.

"It would be a really dangerous position to be in if we weren't trying to constantly improve ourselves."

Looking ahead to Test series away to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Flower was confident England could become a better side.

"We've definitely got a large scope for improvement, and I think that everyone in our dressing room realises that.

"This winter we go to play against two countries that, the last time England toured, we lost.

"We want to go away and play Pakistan and Sri Lanka away from home and win those series.

"We've also got the World Test Championship for the first time in 2013, and that's in our own country. That is certainly something we are striving for."

However, Flower insisted now was not the time to compare England with the West Indies teams of the 1970s and 1980s, or more recent Australia teams that have dominated Test cricket.

"I don't think we can compare ourselves to those sides.

"They dominated world cricket for lengthy periods. We have been playing well for a little while now, but only for a short time in cricketing history terms.

"There is no way we can compare ourselves to those sides, in my opinion.

"Who knows what the future holds, though? That is going to be up to us. It is up to us to deliver excellence and be hungry enough to keep driving ourselves hard enough to deliver that excellence."

"It is one thing being good for a short period of time - but having a side that delivers some special results and has some special times together that they will remember for the rest of their lives, that will be a much better thing to look back on than a few victories here and there."


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