LEEDS, United Kingdom — England coach Andy Flower said Tuesday he was confident England could come back strongly in the second Test against South Africa at Headingley after their innings defeat in the first Test at the Oval last week.
“They outplayed us,” said Flower about the South African performance, which saw it make 637 for two declared in its only innings, inspired by an unbeaten triple century from Hashim Amla.
“They played outstanding cricket. We fought hard but we weren’t good enough. We get another opportunity on Thursday.”
Asked how England could recover after a comprehensive defeat, Flower said: “We get ourselves into the right frame of mind by doing the things that we have been doing very well for the last couple of years.
“I have every confidence in our players that we can come back and play good cricket.”
“Part of our make-up has to be to deal with those ups and downs,” added Flower, in an admission that big swings in fortune were part and parcel of international sport.
He said the momentum in the first Test changed when England failed to capitalize on a good start in the first innings, as it collapsed from 251 for three to 385 all out.
“On a pitch like that you need a significant score and after some outstanding performances on the first day we didn’t capitalize and the South Africans bowled well that second morning,” he continued.
England has won four and lost five of its last ten Tests, but Flower rejected comments that its performances had been “dismal” since it claimed the No. 1 Test ranking.
“We have had some really good results over the last couple of years,” he said. “You’ve got to look a little deeper than that. The series (against Pakistan) in the United Arab Emirates was played under specific conditions and we struggled against their two spinners.
“You can’t compare that at all to the first Test against South Africa.”
He denied that England’s confidence had taken a knock because of the way it lost the first Test and said his team’s preparation remained methodical.
Flower added that Ravi Bopara’s withdrawal for personal reasons was disappointing for the player but said it did not close the door on his chances for future selection.”
But Bopara’s replacement, James Taylor of Nottinghamshire, now has a chance to prove himself.
“I don’t know James very well,” said Flower. “I watched him play against Sri Lanka last year at Derby and he played very well. He looks like a young man who understands his game very well.” — AFP