England team director will have big influence on forthcoming ODI series versus India, reckons brother Grant Flower
Andy Flower, the Director of the England cricket team, began his decade-long romance with India in his maiden Test here, Zimbabwe's first overseas, at the Feroz Shah Kotla in 1993 with gritty knocks of 115 and 62. He went on to aggregate 820 runs from five Tests on Indian soil including a career-best 232 at Nagpur in November 2000.
Master of turners: England coach Andy Flower speaks to his batsmen
during a practice session at Hyderabad on Tuesday. Pics/AFP
Going by those staggering numbers, it's fair to assume that his experience here would be invaluable when recounted to Alaistair's Cook men who begin their pursuit for England's first one-day series win in India in 26 years with the first game at Hyderabad on Friday.
An outstanding player of fast bowling since his early days as an opener, Flower matured into one of the best players of spin in the world, with his finest hour coming on the India tour in late 2000 when he made 540 runs in two Tests. Even the likes of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were helpless against Flower, who had mastered the art of standing at least three inches outside the crease and bring out the sweeps and reverse-sweeps to telling effect.
Flower's know-how of Indian pitches would help the English batsmen, according to his brother Grant Flower. "His presence and knowledge of Indian conditions will have quite a big bearing on the English side's performance (in this series).
He can teach the batsmen how to execute the subtle sweeps, use the face of the bat, not over hit the cricket ball, and also how to build stamina bat for long periods," Flower, now the batting coach of Zimbabwe, told MiD DAY from Harare. "On our first tour of India (in 1993), we learnt a lot about playing spin from our skipper Dave Houghton. I remember Andy used to spend hours of time in the afternoon sun and tell our spinners to bowl at him.
"He perfected the sweep shot and made very good use of sub-standard pitches (during practice) and used to ask the coach for more practice. He understood that batting in India was about spending time at the crease. But it wasn't as easy for us like it was for him."
He acknowledged that the game had changed since his brother's exploits in India. "The wickets have gotten flatter over the years. These days, the pitches are similar everywhere in one-day cricket. Many overseas batsmen have figured out how to play spin," said Flower.
Flower, who finished with over 6000 runs and 100 wickets in ODIs, predicted a strong performance from England. "The Indians are strong at home but it will be a very good series. England have their tails up and will be up for it," he said.
820 The number of runs Andy Flower scored in just five Tests on Indian soil