Flower: Too early for congratulations
Flower: Too early for congratulations
Andy Flower stands on the verge of history, more than a year after taking over as England coach, but he warns there is no reason for satisfaction yet.
Under Flower and captain Paul Collingwood, England have surprised many - if not themselves - by storming through to Sunday's World Twenty20 final.
Victory then, against old foes Australia, will bring England's first ever silverware in a world tournament after 35 years of previous failure.
The level-headed Flower, however, does not get ahead of himself - and certainly will not be starting now.
He said: "We have played some really good cricket. I would say, though, that this is not the time for back-slapping.
"We've got a final on Sunday, so we haven't achieved anything yet.
"My focus is on the future, not looking back."
Asked whether England reaching a world final for the fifth time - on the back of last year's Ashes triumph - represents reason for some satisfaction, Flower again made it clear he wants to be able to cite much more tangible success before he gets into any navel-gazing.
"I wouldn't describe it as satisfactory at all," he said.
"At least, we're heading in the right direction. But we've got a game to win on Sunday, and if we don't win it we won't be the holders of any World Cups.
"It's as simple as that."
None of Flower's natural caution has prevented him enjoying England's run of four successive victories in the Caribbean, however.
"I'm very excited to be here; I've never been anywhere near a World Cup final," he said.
"The guys are bouncing off the walls, and really looking forward to the game. I don't think they're looking at it with any trepidation whatsoever."
England will be under no illusions nonetheless that, to win again at Kensington Oval, they will need to raise the bar once more.
"We're not looking to repeat what we've done at all; we're always looking to improve," added Flower.
"I think our fielding at times has been good and at times a bit sloppy.
"I think some of the batsmen have played really good cameo knocks but in a lot of instances could have gone on to bigger, proper, match-winning scores that put the game beyond the opposition.
"On the bowling front, we've been skillful but we've also conceded extras sometimes when - in an ideal situation - we wouldn't.
"But I think the way the guys have performed has given them a certain self-belief and confidence.
"The batsmen have shown confidence and innovation and power and poise. They've made good decisions and handled themselves well under pressure.
"The bowlers have shown a lot of skill and nous, working with Collingwood. We've used the conditions to our advantage."
Specifically, the batting of new opening pair Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter is a case in point - of encouraging evidence so far, but room for improvement too.
Lumb and Kieswetter first served notice of their potential with powerful half-centuries when England Lions narrowly beat England in a Twenty20 tour match in the United Arab Emirates in February.
Flower did not decide there and then to fast-track the pair into this tournament - but had seen enough to be very interested.
"They both played superbly, but one innings doesn't prove anything," he said.
"They did look talented and hit the ball hard - and in a way, they were under certain pressures as well. Those were good indicators."
The results since have helped England to dominate Twenty20 opponents - as in a 68-run stand in under nine overs of yesterday's semi-final romp against Sri Lanka - but have yet to finish a contest on their own.
Flower would like to see that happen.
"We've had some really good starts from them in this tournament," he said.
"I think it's slightly disappointing that they aren't going on to play the real match-winning innings. I'd be looking for that from them.
"I think they're hungry enough to aim for that as well."