Boyd Rankin's Ashes Diary: Cook and Flower get my backing in bid to avoid tour wipeout
Published 02/01/2014 | 11:30
It's our last chance of saving face in the Ashes series and we are more determined than ever to get that Test win. When things go wrong there are always going to be questions over the coach and captain but I believe both are the right men to take us forward.
I have got to know Andy Flower over the last couple of months and while he is a quiet person, once he starts chatting, you listen.
He has a lot of good stuff to say and he is very impressive. He has been in charge since 2009 and turned England into the No 1 Test team in the world. It's not down to him that we haven't been performing as we would have liked. Indeed, all the backroom staff are doing all they can and it's down to the players on the field to do the business, but it hasn't happened for us on this trip. It's a new year so hopefully we can put things right this week.
Alistair Cook has only been captain for just over a year and had a lot of success, so you can't write these people off. It has been a bad series but I still think over the longer period he is the right person for the job. He has been trying to get the lads into shape and I always find him great to chat to. The results are purely down to too many lads being out of form with the bat. But the players are right behind him.
Changes in our preparation were promised after the Melbourne Test and it was noticeable yesterday morning that our fielding session was a lot more intensive. We've obviously had a few catches go down in the last Test so we are working hard to improve in that area. Nobody drops catches on purpose and we are trying to work out why exactly it's happening, but hopefully our luck will change.
We are doing everything we can and catching most things in practice but if you dropped a ball, there were extra fitness drills to do, so that was the main difference, in that you were under extra pressure to make sure you performed the skill properly.
We had our first look at the Sydney pitch and although it looks green, you can't really go by that two days out. The ground has been used for the (20-over) Big Bash and although it's not the same format, there has been pace and bounce so hopefully that goes in my favour when the team is selected.
I felt I had been going well in the nets during the last Test, working hard on all aspects of my game. But it's the same scenario before every game, a case of working hard and hoping the coaches can see you are ready for the job. It would be great to make my debut this week but it's a case of taking one day at a time and doing the right things.
I made the final 12 in Melbourne so I think I'm quite close. They went with Tim Bresnan in the last game but it's nice to know I was ahead of Finn and Tremlett, so I must be doing something right in the nets and that's all I've been trying to do. There are no games for the players who don't make the team so all you can do is impress in training and that's what I've been doing, especially when bowling to Cook.
Sydney historically favours the spinners and Scott Borthwick and James Tredwell will both be hoping for the call. I know Scotty pretty well from the Lions Programme, having been on tour with him in Bangladesh. He is a really exciting player and his bowling has come on a lot over the last two years but he also scored a lot of runs for Durham last season, I think he got over 1,000 runs in the championship; I certainly bowled to him quite a bit!
He has a great shout, especially as it looks as if Monty Panesar won't make it, although you can't forget James Tredwell who has done well in one-day cricket and it will be interesting to see if they go with his experience. But we have all bases covered.
I have to quickly mention the Melbourne Test. First of all it was an unbelievable, almost unreal, experience to be out there in the line-up for the start of the Test and to sing the National Anthem in front of 90,000 people.
It was an amazing day on an amazing ground and even on the second and third days, while it looked as if there were a lot of empty seats, there were still more than 60,000 people in the ground.
The bowlers did well to get us a first innings lead and when we were 100 ahead with all 10 wickets standing that was the stage when we should have nailed it down and pushed on. But we lost a cluster of wickets for not many runs and again we were on the back foot.
There are certain stages in every game where you have to knuckle down, but we have always been on the wrong end of those situations and letting ourselves down, and that's the areas we are trying to improve on. One more Test to go and no-one wants to lose 5-0.