Flower’s side narrowly avoided a shock defeat in the Test series in New Zealand this week after grinding out a nerve-jangling draw in Auckland after the previous two matches had also ended in stalemate.
England were relieved to avoid the embarrassment of losing to a team who came into the series in disarray following a poor run of results and controversy over Ross Taylor’s removal as captain. But Flower knows that kind of lacklustre showing won’t be enough against Australia, who travel to face England before hosting a second Ashes series later this year. “We’ve got a big year of international cricket and we will need to be sharper, better and more skilful,” Flower told BBC Radio Five Live.
“But it has been a wonderful winter and to win in India was a really special moment. The only series we have lost was the one-day series in India.” While England were struggling to avoid defeat in New Zealand, Australia were slumping to a dismal 4-0 series loss in India, where Flower’s men won 2-1 three months earlier.
Flower refused to write off the Australians and preferred to focus on England's forthcoming rematch against New Zealand on home soil, which serves as a warm-up for the Ashes.
“They had a tough time out there (in India). It's a really tough place to tour," said Flower. “The Ashes are a little way off. There is some great cricket to be played in the meantime, by us, we hope.”
England, ranked the second best Test side, were criticised for showing complacency against NZ, yet Flower insisted they had not taken their opponents lightly.
“We place importance on all international series and it would be disrespectful to do anything other than that - there was no complacency in our camp,” he said.