Flower stands firm over ball management

ANDY FLOWER is unrepentant about England’s management of the ball, despite South Africa’s transitory suspicions that tampering might have been afoot during the third Test.

The tourists emerged with a nerve-jangling draw on Thursday – courtesy of the defiance of Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and finally number 11 Graham Onions – in a match beset by controversy then concluded in drama.

South Africa voiced their concerns, publicly and with match referee Roshan Mahanama, on the third evening at Newlands after Stuart Broad had stopped a straight drive with the sole of his studded boot and James Anderson had been spotted running his fingers over the ball.

England coach Flower, however, is adamant his pace bowlers’ efforts to achieve reverse swing – once the ball becomes naturally rough from wear and tear – are entirely above board.

“Our bowlers have shown a lot of skill with reverse swing,” he said.

“The abrasive pitches here have helped get the ball into condition to do it. We’ll be going about things in exactly the same way.”

As for South Africa’s decision to go public with their concerns but then decline to make an official complaint, Flower believes it was a flawed manoeuvre but not one which has damaged the spirit between two teams locked in a tough series England lead 1-0 with one match to play.

“If they wanted to raise it, they should have done it formally,” he said.

“But relations are fine. They are two competitive units battling it out, so you expect a little bit of toing and froing.”

Meanwhile, the coach praised Onions, saying that it was no accident the Durham tail-ender bailed England out once again.

“He’s been put in a couple of really difficult situations,” said Flower.

“He’s bowled probably not with a hell of a lot of luck, and then he’s been thrown into some really tense positions with the bat. He’s come through very well. All-round, it’s a good reflection on English cricket that we could fight our way through.”

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