sport

Flower's role under scrutiny

Andy Flower is to hold talks about his role as England team director later this week but has hinted that he would like to remain in the post.

Flower will meet with the new chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board Paul Downton who replaced Hugh Morris in October.

Flower, one of the principal architects of England's brief rise to the pinnacle of test cricket in 2011, is contracted to the end of the Ashes which wraps up with the fifth and final match in Sydney.

Speaking in Melbourne, where England lost the fourth Ashes Test to slip 4-0 behind in the series, Flower said: "Paul has arrived in Australia and I'll be meeting with him in Sydney.

"We'll talk about the leadership of the national team with regards to the coaching position.

"I'm very motivated to contribute to English cricket and that's what I'm going to do."

A number of other England officials are under scrutiny including skipper Alastair Cook and batting coach Graham Gooch whose positions will be reviewed following the fifth Test in Sydney.

Cook's captaincy has come under mounting scrutiny with each loss in the Ashes tour, and by any measure, the 29-year-old endured a poor test in Melbourne.

Apart from dropping two catches at first slip in the first half-hour of day four when his team needed quick wickets, Cook's field placements and bowling changes were heavily criticised by former players and pundits on both sides.

Since taking over the captaincy from Andrew Strauss in 2012, Cook has led England to a breakthrough series win in India and their third successive Ashes win earlier this year on home soil.

Collective loss of form

However, a collective loss of form from his senior players in this Ashes tour has exposed Cook, who has not scored a century in his past nine tests and has appeared powerless to influence the course of matches Down Under.

Flower added: "Alastair has captained in six Test series for England and this is the first loss he's had.

"He's done some outstanding things for England with the bat and he's also done some excellent things as a leader in the dressing room and out on the field.

"We are all responsible for this result - management and players."

Flower said he expected there would be "one or two" changes for England for the Sydney test, Australia's only spin-friendly wicket.

With the series shot, England may be tempted to give rising legspinner Scott Borthwick a chance and bring in a fresh paceman in either Steve Finn or uncapped Northern Irishman Boyd Rankin.

Ian Bell could also be promoted up the batting order ahead of Joe Root while Matt Prior could be recalled in place of Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow.

"We don't want people to accept losing too easily but sometimes you have to face the fact that you've been outplayed," he concluded.

"The Australian side has done exactly that to us. But I don't believe we should be totally distraught at where we are. A lot of these cricketers have had outstanding success on the international stage and they will have success again."