Despite one of his key bowlers, speedster Tim Bresnan, copping a fine for showing dissent at the umpire's decision in the third ODI against India at Mohali, England coach Andy Flower on Friday insisted that his team's general conduct was a matter of pride.
"I am very proud of our record and the way we conduct ourselves in international cricket. Generally we set high standards," Flower told reporters on his team's arrival in Mumbai on Friday, ahead of the fourth and penultimate match at the Wankhede Stadium on October 23.
On Bresnan's behaviour that led to him being slapped a fine of 7.5 per cent of the match fee by match referee Roshan Mahanama, Flower defended his player's conduct saying he had snatched the cap from the umpire out of frustration and not as a show of dissent and had apologised to the concerned umpire.
"He pleaded not guilty. Firstly, he apologised in the meeting for snatching the cap (from the umpire). Secondly, he said he snatched the cap out of frustration (because of the number of runs he gave). It's nothing to do with dissent, that's what I found. He's a fine young man and has a very good disciplinary record," the former Zimbabwe captain said.
Flower also played down India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's post-match comments that England should be nicer to the opposition.
"I have seen some of the comments. As a principle we try to focus in our jobs and we refrain from making moral judgment about the opposition," the England coach said.
"It's important to be nice to your opposition team. When you are under pressure you will definitely commit mistakes. England have five specialist bowlers. As far as talent is concerned, they are a very good side but they need to stick together in the next two games," the Indian skipper had said after his team's series-snatching 5-wicket win.
Flower, however, conceded both teams had behaved improperly at times during the series.
"I think the officials are there to ensure that sporting conduct occurs and if the game was not played in the right way, it's their job to step in. After the game, the match referee spoke to both captains about both sides' behaviour and I think he was right to do so. The behaviour of both teams should have been better in the second game (at Delhi on October 17)," he said.
The former Zimbabwean wicketkeeper-batsman blamed his side's poor batting display as the main reason for losing to the world champions who had finished second best to his team in the same format recently in England.
"We under-performed, there is no doubt about it. In the first two ODI matches, our highest individual score was about 61 (captain Alastair Cook in the first game at Hyderabad). I think our partnerships were limited. The highest was 70-odd."
"So, simply said you cannot win games in most countries with this type of batting figures, and certainly not in the sub-continent," he said.
However, he held out some hope following the team's improved batting display in the third ODI on Thursday.
"There are various areas which we can improve. They (players) are aware of it. Our batsmen showed some way in improving in number of areas yesterday (at Mohali), that includes the highest total (298) batting first in India," he said.
Though the series is out of his side's bag, Flower insisted the team would try and win the last two games to end the short visit on a better note.
"We had come here after a good summer and with high hopes. We have lost the series and result is past. We look to the next two games. We will try to win the next two games and learn as a side and develop. The chance of winning the series is over," said Flower.
Flower praised Jonathan Trott for his splendid knock of 98 at Mohali on Thursday that helped England post close to 300 runs.
"I thought he really played well yesterday and lay a base for a good total. We could have and should have won that game with that kind of a total. His (Trott's) 98 was a very good performance," said the England coach.
"I think he's done a very good job for England in both forms of the game over the last year. He's been outstanding in Test cricket and he's provided solidity and consistency in one-day internationals."
"He has allowed the others to bat around him. His one-day batting stats has improved. He works incredibly hard at his game and is a proven international player," Flower added.
Flower also saw a bright future for wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter.
"He's had a very good summer in England in limited overs games and made some good contributions to the side against Sri Lanka and India.
"He's a young batsman and a natural cricketer with tremendous potential. We have all seen his clean hitting. He's also trying to find a balance between attack and defence. We have to be patient with him," the Zimbabwean said.
Flower also urged critics to be patient with Cook as a captain before comparing him with Test skipper Andrew Strauss.
"There's no valid comparison between Cook and Strauss. There's difference of inexperience (in captaincy). Cook is very highly regarded and respected in the dressing room and I believe he conducts himself very well and he's a role model for others," he emphasised.