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Ashes: England coach Andy Flower seeks winning finale

Ashes: England cricket players practice sprinkler dance

England cricketers practise Ashes sprinkler dance

By Tom Fordyce
BBC Sport in Melbourne

England coach Andy Flower says his team must now win the Ashes series after a night of celebrations in Melbourne.

The Ashes were retained with an innings victory at the MCG but an Australia win in the final Test, which starts on Sunday, would square the series at 2-2.

Flower said: "Everyone involved in this tour will feel a lot of pride about how the guys have played but it's much too early to be feeling satisfied.

"We came here to win the series and will do everything we can to do that."

Flower added: "The Melbourne performance was an outstanding one but we also realise that there's a lot of cricket ahead on this tour."

Flower targets England improvement

England's players and fans toasted their victory, which ensured the precious urn was won down under for the first time in 24 years, until the early hours of Thursday morning.

Speaking at the team hotel, Flower admitted: "I've seen a few of the guys this morning but some are conspicuous by their absence. But they've earned a day off and it will be good for them not to think about the stresses of the game.

"We had some really special times in the changing room yesterday afternoon and I know that for all the cricketers those are times that you cherish.

"When they've fought hard and come out on top they can enjoy each other's success and each other's company for a little period of time in the sanctuary of the dressing room.

"The families joined us for a short time and I know the guys enjoyed having their loved ones around with them to share it with them. We celebrated yesterday and it's time to move on now."

After their previous win on the tour, another innings victory in the second Test in Adelaide, England were themselves thumped in the following match at the Waca before a second victory in Melbourne.

The final Test in Sydney starts at 2330 GMT on Sunday.

Flower insisted that the celebrations on the MCG pitch on Wednesday and those that followed would not lead to complacency.

"It's like regrouping after the Perth Test - you have to draw a line under previous matches and start again," he stated. "We will draw a line under this win and go out to win in Sydney.

England coach Andy Flower
Our bowlers were able to create pressure through their skills

England coach Andy Flower

"I'm very proud of the way the team has played throughout the tour. The guys have worked very hard for the success we've had on this tour.

"We knew before we came out here that it would take some outstanding cricket for us to come out on top in this series and it will take good cricket to win the last Test."

Flower lavished praise on the team's bowling coach David Saker - the former Victoria fast bowler, whose intimate knowledge of Australian conditions and, in particular, the MCG pitch - has proved so important in the series so far.

"The Kookaburra ball was much talked about before the game started and there were a lot things said about our bowlers not being able to use it as well as they do the Duke," added Flower.

"But I think you've seen some very skilful bowling from our guys and they've worked very hard at it. David has been instrumental in their development and [his predecessor] Otis Gibson before that, so those guys should feel very proud of what we've achieved.

"I haven't seen many men come into a group where they didn't know anyone and integrate as well as David has - and that's testament to his character.

"He's added value to our coaching group and our players. He's very good at what he does and we hope to have him around for a lot longer."

England spinner Graeme Swann was at the forefront of the team's festivities after the match, telling his followers on Twitter that he was "a little bit tipsy" after enjoying a Jaegerbomb drink or two with his team-mates.

Swann's spell after tea on the third day was highlighted by Flower as one of the key planks in England's win.

"I thought Swann's spell of bowling, on a pitch that wasn't turning, was one of the outstanding spells of bowling that I've seen from him," said Flower.

TOM FORDYCE'S BLOG

"I know he didn't get a huge haul of wickets but the pressure he created from one end - I thought he showed incredible skill.

"The balance between attack and defence for a batsman is always a tricky one to find and the job of the bowlers is to put them under pressure. Our bowlers were able to create pressure through their skills."

For the the fifth Test at the SCG, there have been suggestions England will once again tweak their starting XI to suit the particular characteristics of the ground.

The decisions to bring Chris Tremlett in for the third Test in Perth and Tim Bresnan for this match in Melbourne paid off, with both men taking important wickets and looking threatening throughout.

However, Flower hinted that there would be few surprises, even with Paul Collingwood struggling badly with the bat throughout the series so far.

"I don't feel tempted to experiment," revealed Flower. "You don't experiment with people's careers. We've got quite a nice blend of youth and experience in our squad and we will pick what we think is the side that has the best chance of winning in Sydney."

"He [Collingwood] has had a tough series. He got a couple of 90s in the first-class games and looked in good order. I'm not overly concerned about him - he's an experienced cricketer, a tough bloke and he adds in all sorts of ways to our side.

"But yes, his job is to score runs, like all of our batsmen, and he'll be looking to do that in Sydney."



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see also
Flower targets England improvement
30 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Ponting ruled out of Sydney Test
30 Dec 10 |  Australia
Strauss demands Ashes series win
29 Dec 10 |  England
England seal win to retain Ashes
29 Dec 10 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
29 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
29 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Swann vows to celebrate England win
29 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Fourth Ashes Test in photos
29 Dec 10 |  England
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket


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