Flower tells Pakistan captain to Butt out of Ashes

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/a/andy_flower.jpg' class='caption'> Andy Flower told Salman Butt to mind his own business after the Pakistan captain backed Australia to deny England a successful defence of the Ashes.

Updated: August 23, 2010 08:01 IST
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Andy Flower has told Salman Butt to mind his own business after the Pakistan captain backed Australia to deny England a successful defence of the Ashes.

Butt's men beat England by four wickets at The Oval here on Saturday to reduce the hosts' series lead to 2-1 ahead of the fourth and final Test starting on the other side of London's River Thames at Lord's on Thursday.

Pakistan drew 1-1 in a two-Test series against Australia in England last month and Butt was unequivocal when asked by reporters at The Oval who he favoured to win the Ashes series, which starts in Brisbane in November.

"The Aussies are much better players in their own conditions," Butt said.

"The ball doesn't swing so much, so the bowlers have to work hard. In their conditions they are better than England."

However, England coach Flower, speaking on Sunday, said: "Salman Butt shouldn't really be making judgments about our bowlers in Australia.

"Of course, if the ball doesn't swing at any venue, (fast) bowlers will be less dangerous. That's perfectly obvious."

Meanwhile Flower wants a show of faith in the top-order to be rewarded with a much improved batting display at Lord's.

Yorkshire seamer Tim Bresnan was the only addition on Sunday to the England team beaten at The Oval.

That means England are set to field an unchanged top order at Lord's and Flower wants that vote of confidence rewarded after a poor display at The Oval.

"On the batting side, I thought we under-performed without a doubt," Flower said. "On a good Oval pitch, scores of 233 and 222 weren't good enough to win a Test match."

At The Oval, England lost their first seven wickets for 94 runs in their first innings and their last seven wickets for 28 in their second after Alastair Cook's century.

In an era of generally batsmen-friendly wickets, both pitch and overhead conditions favoured swing bowlers in the first two Test of this series.

But Flower said the odds were far more in the batsmen's favour at The Oval.

"I think the first two pitches we played on at Trent Bridge and Edgbaston were very tricky surfaces," former Zimbabwe batsman Flower explained. "So they would have undoubtedly have contributed to collapses.

"At The Oval, although we won the toss and batted, they were still quite trying conditions.

"But in the second innings there were no excuses whatsoever. We set up a brilliant platform through Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott and we performed poorly after that.

"Any batting collapse is concerning and there have been too many of them."

England's top order has been struggling lately, with captain Andrew Strauss, fellow opener Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood all averaging under 30 in three Tests against Pakistan.

"As a batting team we need to produce better results, simple as that," Flower said.

"Lord's should provide us with a very good opportunity to put things right and it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that happens."

Last weekend's defeat ended England's run of six straight Test wins.

"But four of those were against Bangladesh so let's keep it in perspective," said Flower.

"I think we are getting better as an international unit but we are still well down the rankings in Test cricket. As a team, we are very realistic about where we are."

He added: "We know we are a dangerous side and can win international matches and series but we are not the best side in the world and we are working hard to get better."

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