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Page last updated at 19:07 GMT, Sunday, 8 February 2009

Flower plays down 'distractions'

England 'hurt and disappointed' - Flower

England assistant coach Andy Flower believes the humiliating first Test defeat by the West Indies was not due to external distractions.

England were beaten by an innings and 23 runs in Jamaica after being bowled out for 51 in their second innings.

England have no official coach for the tour, while the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction was held during the Test.

"I don't believe the batting collapse had anything to do with that," Flower told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We know it's not an ideal situation but remember professional sportsmen are supposed to deal with distraction in a lot of areas, it's part of their job and part of the skill of playing international cricket.

"In no way did we underestimate the West Indies but they performed superbly and we weren't good enough to deal with them."

However in other media interviews given by Flower, the England assistant coach conceded "there might be an element of truth" in suggestions the team had been distracted by the fall-out between ex-captain Kevin Pietersen and former coach Peter Moores as well as the IPL auction.

The auction was held on Friday, ahead of the start of the second day's play in Jamaica.

Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were each auctioned for a record sum of $1.55m (1.1m), while Ravi Bopari, Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood were also picked by up IPL franchises.

Hopefully this is a watershed moment for this England side

Andy Flower

"The IPL auction and the sums accrued by the individuals are only seen as bonuses by those guys," said Flower.

"The others earn good livings but more importantly they play for England."

The England and Wales Cricket Board's decision not to name a replacement for Moores on this trip has led to suggestions the team has no direction, but Flower argued the build-up for the tour had gone well.

"Andrew Strauss is a strong leader and I'll be right there supporting him," said Flower. "I think our preparation for this series was absolutely perfect."

Saturday's defeat led to a call for an overhaul of personnel in the side with the likes of Ian Bell and Alistair Cook, who have been woefully short of form, the chief targets.

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But Flower insisted the England camp will take their time before making team changes.

England now have five days in which to prepare themselves for the second Test, which begins on Friday in Antigua.

"We had a breakfast chat Straussy and I, and we've got a skeleton plan in place," said Flower.

"We've got to learn from what's happened, its got to make us more determined and make us better at dealing with pressure.

"It is going to be really difficult to come back from one down but we have done it before and we have to play great cricket

"Hopefully this is a watershed moment for this England side."

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see also
England collapse angers Strauss
07 Feb 09 |  England
England 'too matey' with Windies
08 Feb 09 |  Cricket
England crash to innings defeat
07 Feb 09 |  England
England players top IPL auction
06 Feb 09 |  Cricket
Strauss ready to rebuild England
08 Jan 09 |  England


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