I FIRMLY believe the division of England’s coaching duties between Andy Flower and Ashley Giles is a sensible and innovative idea, so what I am about to say is not a criticism of the system itself.
But I can’t help wondering whether the dreadful start England made to the first Test in New Zealand last week is in some way down to Flower’s lack of input in the preceding one-day and Twenty20 internationals.
To give an example, fielding drills can differ for the short and long forms of the game. England dropped a few catches in the first Test that you wouldn’t have expected, so perhaps there was too much focus on ODIs, and not enough on the Test.
Ian Bell opened the batting in the one-day games – a vital job and one he and Giles would have worked very hard on him getting right. He then had to switch mindsets completely to bat at No5 in the Test.
It’s a similar case with Steven Finn, who is striving to establish himself in the ODI side. He then has to go from bowling 10 overs a day to 30, trying different things, for the Test team.
Flower will have kept a close eye on preparations for the ODIs and T20s, but could not really interfere as those teams are no longer his brief. It’s a small factor but one that I think has had an effect.
The Test head coach is very efficient and thorough, however, and also knows it is a long year in which he needs to be at the top of his game in the second half, not the first.
England saved face, and a draw, in the first Test, but I expect them to come out far stronger in the second match this week, despite New Zealand taking a lot of confidence from that clash in Dunedin.
The hosts are a young, developing side and were nervous about facing a very good English team. They couldn’t have dreamed the first two days of play would go so well, even if England finally got stuck into them in the second innings.
Giles’s bowlers, in particular, will be far better prepared. They’ll have spent the last few days analysing some of their opponents newer, less well-known batsmen and should know which weaknesses to target.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.