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Flower sees new England era after Ashes debacle

January 6, 2014

SYDNEY (AP) — Coach Andy Flower says England’s 5-0 loss to Australia in the Ashes cricket series may be the end of an era and there will be “more pain” before the team again experiences sustained success.

Flower told a news conference Monday he won’t be quitting after England’s series whitewash and he believes captain Alastair Cook is still the right man to lead the test team.

The ex-Zimbabwe test batsman said he is prepared to make the hard decisions necessary to allow England to rebuild after a series mauling which ended with its 281-run loss inside three days in the fifth test.

Flower wouldn’t discuss the cases of individual players but his promise of a fresh start has been interpreted as suggesting the positions of some senior players, notably Kevin Pietersen, may be under threat.

The 33-year-old Pietersen, who scored 3 and 6 in Sydney, and 31-year-old wicketkeeper Matt Prior have been identified as possible victims of a post-series overhaul. Flower was directly asked about Pietersen but wouldn’t speculate on his future. The South Africa-born Pietersen has played 104 tests and scored 8,181 runs at an average of 47.28, ranking him behind only former test captains Graham Gooch (8,900), Alec Stewart (8,463), and David Gower (8,231) in England’s list of test scorers.

“This will be a new start, and so it should be,” Flower said. “It does feel like the end of some type of era.

“We might have to take a little more pain before we have sustained success again. And we might have to ask for a little patience in that regard over the coming months.”

England has five months before its next test series against Sri Lanka and the Ashes tour will be subject to a full review before those matches takes place. Flower said he wouldn’t be stepping down and he believed Cook, who at times in the Ashes series seemed shell-shocked, could lead the team toward recovery.

“I’m not going to discuss individuals, but looking at it a little more holistically, I think it will be the start of something new,” Flower said. “I think Alastair Cook as captain can lead that renewal and rebuilding.

“We’re not proud of (the Sydney test) and we’re not proud of the test series result, of course. It’s quite a bitter pill to swallow. But that’s what it is and we have to face up to that reality.”

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