England’s capacity to learn impresses Flower

England's coach Andy Flower (left) and Alistair Cook chat during a nets session
England's coach Andy Flower (left) and Alistair Cook chat during a nets session
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Team director Andy Flower believes his England side have done the country proud by sealing a rare series victory in India.

Needing just a draw to claim a 2-1 win and their first series success in India for nearly 28 years, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell both struck centuries as England safely negotiated the final day’s play in Nagpur.

Flower took particular satisfaction from the fact his side learned from their mistakes after losing the first Test, although he warned them against complacency in the future.

“They’ve really done themselves proud here and their country proud,” he said.

“To come out here and show that they’ve learned things is one of the special things about this victory.

“They’ve learned how to play spin a lot better – obviously not the finished article but they’ve learned how to play spin a lot better – and they’ve learned how to take 20 wickets in these conditions and they’ve learned how to be resilient in foreign conditions.

“I think those are all things they can be very proud of.”

A nine-wicket first-Test humbling in Ahmedabad led to much derision from the media that England could not play spin in the sub-continent, following on from their 3-0 loss against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year.

But Flower was rewarded for his patience with the batsmen as England charged back with victories in Mumbai and Kolkata.

“It’s nice for that faith to be repaid,” he added.

“I must say after that first Test loss I was heartened by the way that we played in the second part of the first innings and heartened by the way we played in the second innings.

“I’ve also seen the work, obviously very close-hand, that they were doing in training and I was convinced they were better players of spin than they showed in the first bit of that first innings in Ahmedabad – that cost us really dear there.

“We didn’t know which way it was going to go, but I think they’ve proved they’ve learned a lot, especially some of the older players.

“That is a testament to some of their humility and their maturity to continue their learning into this phase of their career.”

Former all-rounder Sir Ian Botham led the tributes after England claimed their landmark series success. Botham, who is still England’s leading wicket-taker in Tests, was full of praise for seamer James Anderson and spin duo Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, whose stock rose after being omitted in Ahmedabad.

“He (Anderson) has been tremendous and he’s been well supported,” said Botham.

“He’s been the seamer that’s been there throughout the series but he’s had – apart from the debacle of the first Test – from the second Test onwards, two spinners to work with.

“Between them, the combination of those three has been the difference. All three of them out-bowled their opponents.”

Botham also highlighted England’s superior fitness in unforgiving sub-continent conditions.

“When you’re playing in these conditions it’s hard work, it’s hot, it’s unfriendly to bowlers, it’s hard work for batsmen concentrating and all in all England outshone India in every side of fitness,” he added.

Former England opener Nick Knight pinpointed Alastair Cook’s century in the loss in Ahmedabad as the changing point in the series.

Cook registered the first of three hundreds in a losing cause but Knight believes the innings may have boosted England.

“We’ve all been talking about the dramatic turnaround from that first Test match to the second, third and fourth,” he said.

“For me, the way Alastair Cook played in that second innings of that Ahmedabad Test match maybe just settled the whole team down.”

England’s success is viewed as equal to their triumph in Australia two years ago due to the vast difference between pitches.

“Congrats to Alastair Cook’s England cricket team for first series victory in India since 1985 – another fantastic 2012 sporting feat,” said Prime Minister David Cameron on the social networking site Twitter.

Former England captain and opening batsman Michael Vaughan added: “Cannot praise the England cricket team enough on winning in India. The hardest place of them all to win. A real all-round team effort.”

Yorkshire’s Vaughan had suggested England were staring at a 4-0 whitewash after losing the first Test, and wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior responded: “Where’s that tweet predicting 4-0 win to India?

“The boys can’t seem to find it? #turnsroundquickly.”

The India series by numbers...

23: Alastair Cook became the first England batsman to make 23 Test centuries when he reached three figures in the third Test. He struck three tons and was the leading run-scorer in the series with 562 at an average of 80.28.

20: Graeme Swann and Pragyan Ojha finished as the joint-highest wicket-takers.

43: Ian Bell has been criticised for his lack of runs on the sub-continent and while this average is flattered by two not-out innings, the right-hander finally scored his first century (116no) in India.

288: Despite struggling initially, Anderson came into his own in the last two Tests and his 12 wickets across the four matches pushed his career total close to 300 scalps.

52.64: Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was hyped up by the Indians heading into this series but his 14 wickets came at an expensive average. He was, however, useful with the bat.