LONDON // Andy Flower remains convinced England will start their Ashes campaign next month full of confidence despite their disappointing exit from the World Twenty20 tournament. The England coach immediately turned his attentions to the first Ashes Test in Cardiff on July 8 following Monday's defeat by the West Indies, which sealed their departure from the tournament. But despite suffering a roller coaster tournament, which included defeats to Holland and South Africa but triumphs over India and Pakistan, he believes the event has served England well in their preparation.
Batsman Ravi Bopara enhanced his growing reputation with a consistent tournament, which included his maiden Twenty20 half-century against the West Indies, the leg-spinner Adil Rashid emerged impressively while pace bowlers Stuart Broad, Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson proved a constant threat. "Ravi has been brilliant since he came back in the side and when we put him in at three in the Test matches he has been superb," enthused Flower.
"He's shown a lot of class and character and I really like him as a bloke and a player, but he is only at the formative stage of his career and there is a long way to go for him." Perhaps the most fierce competition, however, is in the seam bowling department with all-rounder Andrew Flintoff poised to return while both Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions performed well in the early summer series win over the West Indies.
"Our seamers are looking good at the moment and they're becoming quite a good unit," said Flower. "There are a few permutations we could have. "We used Onions and Bresnan at the start of the season, but conditions will change as the summer wears on. At the moment we haven't decided on the balance of our side." * PA