Flower sees India triumph as turning point for England as Cook, KP and Co arrive back at Heathrow after momentous victory
12:51 GMT, 18 December 2012
Andy Flower senses England’s Test team may have reached a turning point with their historic series victory in India.
The triumphant England players arrived at Heathrow today, as Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar were greeted warmly after touching down in London.
Pietersen, who successfully reintegrated into the squad this series after being selected by Flower, was snapped as he pushed his trolley through the airport.
Triumphant: Monty Panesar (left) and Alastair Cook were at Heathrow along with Kevin Pietersen (right)
Cook and Panesar walked alongside each other through Terminal 3 after yesterday's draw in Nagpur.
Cook’s tourists defied the pessimistic expectations of many by recovering from a nine-wicket drubbing in the first Test in Ahmedabad to win successive matches in Mumbai and Kolkata and then clinch the series with yesterday’s draw.
In doing so, they finished a tough year on a significant high.
Under Cook’s predecessor Andrew Strauss, a dual Ashes-winning captain, England fell from grace in 2012 with series defeats against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last winter and then at home to South Africa.
Their hard-earned world No 1 Test status was a thing of the past by the time Strauss retired four months ago – and even after their 2-1 victory here, a first in India for almost 28 years, they have lost seven of 15 matches this year.
Good show: Cook and Panesar were greeted warmly at Terminal 3 at Heathrow
All smiles: Cook was accompanied by his wife Alice as he pushed his trolley through the terminal
Coach Flower believes, however, there is no reason why the future cannot be a bright one for Cook’s team.
Asked if the fightback in India – completed thanks to centuries by Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell yesterday – could be a turning point, he said: 'I think it is.
'We had a tough time in the UAE against Pakistan at the start of the year, and one of the most satisfying things at the minute – certainly for me, and I’m sure for the players – is that they’ve shown they can score runs.
'Even some of the older guys, that have been around and have excellent Test career achievements, have still adapted their game and shown their game can improve.
'They’ve done that in conditions where English teams don’t historically do very well.
'I think everyone is very proud of that.'
Say cheese: The pair smiled for the cameras after touching down in the capital
Spinning to victory: This picture of Graeme Swann (right) and Monty Panesar (left) was tweeted by fellow bowler James Anderson
Generations of England batsmen, in particular, have been found wanting in India since David Gower’s 1984-85 tourists also prevailed by a 2-1 margin.
'It’s very satisfying for that group of 30 blokes to have come out here and adapted to these conditions and overcome the opposition,' added Flower.
'It’s taken a lot of hard work, a lot of thought and a lot of skill out there in the middle – and they should be very proud of themselves.'
Flower paid tribute to his players’ character after they adapted brilliantly to the conditions.
He told Radio 5 Live: 'After the losses in the UAE we put some training regimes in place to help the players with their knowledge of how to play spin and score runs in these conditions.
Captain fantastic: Alastair Cook ensured that the tourists ended 2012 on a high
'The players have put hours and hours of work into improving themselves. Their improvement against spin is great testament to their character.
'I think it has been a great year for English cricket. To win here for the first time in (almost) 28 years is an historic achievement. There is plenty for us to be proud of us in this last year.'
Flower also had words of praise for Kevin Pietersen, who finished a turbulent year personally on a high, the highlight a magnificent 186 in Mumbai.
He said: 'That innings in Mumbai was outstanding. He showed incredible skill and for him to turn the game around for us in partnership with Alastair Cook was a pivotal moment in the series.'