Flower demands England ask honest questions

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Andy Flower insists England must be honest with themselves if they are to work out once and for all why they keep starting Test tours so poorly.

Flower concedes four successive sub-200 totals at the start of away series, completed by England’s 167 all out in the drawn first Test against New Zealand, is an issue they must confront.

England’s Test coach acknowledges too that the process must start with him, because he will not be asking his players to do anything he is not prepared to do himself.

It required a mammoth second-innings effort - including centuries from both openers and a dour demonstration of nightwatchman Steven Finn’s previously-unheralded defensive technique - to ensure a draw in Dunedin on Sunday.

England can therefore still hope to win the three-match series, which continues in Wellington this week.

After their previous false starts over the past two winters, they lost the series only against Pakistan - drawing subsequently in Sri Lanka and then posting a historic victory in India before Christmas.

Flower does not accept the suggestion that England’s early troubles this time at the University Oval were the result of insufficient preparation time. “The way we started this tour, principally in that first innings, has nothing to do with people not having enough cricket.

“We’ve had a reasonable amount of preparation time, and enough to get ready for that first Test.

“So that is not the reason why we under-performed.”

He believes comparisons with England’s sticky start in the desert 14 months ago are also wide of the mark, but agrees nonetheless an unwanted pattern has emerged.

“It’s very different to the Pakistan series - obviously, they had a couple of spinners that created issues for us.

“But if you are asking about a trend, that is certainly something that I should be addressing myself.”

Flower will do so by consulting his coaching staff, and then perhaps implementing some as yet unspecified new regimes. “I have some ideas on rejigging a couple of things in our preparation, in our management team firstly, and we’ll see if we can do something about it. We always encourage our players to be honest with themselves, and each other. So then we’ve got to do the same,” he said.

“The coaches have to do that, and I’m the first guy that has to do it.”

Losing a warm-up match against a New Zealand XI in Queenstown was perhaps a wake-up call, but not one which immediately resulted in an improvement once this series was under way.

“I’m not happy...that we lost the four-day game - we go into those games trying to win them,” said Flower.