England coach Andy Flower blamed his team’s lengthy lay-off as being one of the factors contributing towards the 3-0 Test series rout by Pakistan, assuring he will adjust preparations accordingly in the future.
England, who didn’t play a Test since beating India in August last year, succumbed to their first-ever whitewash against Pakistan following a 71-run defeat in the third and final Test here on Monday.
“I certainly think that one of the differences between the two sides was that – while we were sitting at home resting for two months prior to Christmas, and our players did need rest – Pakistan were playing against Sri Lanka, who are a very fine side,” Flower said on Tuesday.
“They (Pakistan) were then playing against Bangladesh in Bangladesh – tough conditions – so they were hardening themselves up for this series, and we weren’t.
“That, I would imagine, is a factor in this result – and we will adjust our preparation accordingly, and take those lessons into Sri Lanka series and the India tour,” said Flower of his team’s tours later in the year.
Flower said England’s batsmen lacked skill against spinners, failing against off-spinner Saeed Ajmal (24 wickets in the series) and Abdul Rehman (19).
“Unfortunately, our skills against their spinners have not been good enough. We haven’t been able to learn quickly enough … our batting has been under par all the way through,” said Flower.
Ajmal recorded a career best 7-55 in Pakistan’s ten wicket win in the first Test in Dubai while Rehman fetched 6-25 to help his team win the second by 72 runs.
For England, Jonathan Trott remained top scorer in the series with 161 with Alastair Cook 159 and wicketkeeper batsman Matt Prior finishing at 150.
Strauss also managed 150 but key batsmen Kevin Pietersen (67), Ian Bell (51) and Eoin Morgan (82) were major let downs.
“There’s a lot of work to do, both in the lead-up to this one-day series – which is very short – through that and then on into the Sri Lanka trip,” said Flower of his team’s four-match one-day series starting from February 13.
Flower, who took over in 2009 and helped England to two Ashes victories which saw his team rise to world number one in Tests, said there had been high hopes prior to the series.
“We’ve been soundly beaten, and it’s been a very disappointing result for us. We came out here with high hopes of carrying on our great form in Test cricket, and we haven’t been good enough to do that,” said Flower.
Flower showed his surprise over the batting failures.
“It was quite strange and surprising to find so many of our batsmen low on confidence during this tour. But we can do something about that, and are working hard to do so,” said Flower, backing Bell who is dropped from the one-day squad.
“Bell is a very fine player, who has had a hard time in this Tests and hasn’t had that many chances recently in one-day for us. He’s not too old to fight his way back into the side.”