Strauss tells England top-order to shape up

Andrew Strauss told his batsmen to raise their game after his side just did enough to hang on for a draw in the first Test against Australia.

updated: July 13, 2009 08:54 IST
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England captain Andrew Strauss told his batsmen to raise their game after his side just did enough to hang on for a draw in the first Test against Australia here at Sophia Gardens.

Last-wicket duo James Anderson and Monty Panesar saw out the final 40 minutes here Sunday during a 69-ball stand that took England to safety and left the five-match Ashes series all square at 0-0 ahead of the second Test, which starts at Strauss's Lord's home ground on Thursday.

Their efforts built on the foundation laid by Paul Collingwood's patient last-day innings of 74 which spanned nearly six hours.

But when Collingwood came to the crease England had collapsed to 46 for four and it was not long before they were 70 for five.

Apart from Collingwood, no England top-order batsman managed more in their second innings than Strauss's 17.

And the Middlesex left-handed opener admitted that simply wasn't good enough on a pitch where, only the day before, Australia had piled up 674 for six declared featuring hundreds from captain Ricky Ponting (150), Marcus North (125 not out), Simon Katich (122) and Brad Haddin (121).

"The top order didn't perform well enough," said Strauss.

"We all had a part to play in our own downfall, there were a lot of ways of staying in there and we didn't find them."

Strauss could only watch as Anderson and Panesar showed England's premier batsmen how to keep Australia at bay.

"I was on the edge of my seat," Strauss, who was seen holding his head in his hands during England's last-wicket stand, said.

"It was horrible to watch. As a batsman, to watch Nos 10 and 11 do your job for you is not a place you want to be. There's a huge amount of relief."

He too praised Collingwood's application, saying: "He's a tenacious little red-head. He never takes a backward step.

"That was his route into the Test team and it's kind of the only way he knows. In circumstances like that you almost expect him to do something along those lines and it just underlines his value to the side."

But there was controversy during the closing overs when England twice sent on 12th man Bilal Shafayat, once even accompanied by the team physiotherapist, in what appeared to be clear attempts at time-wasting.

A somewhat sheepish Strauss said: "Our intentions were good. We weren't out there to waste a huge amount of time.

"We first of all sent out the 12th man to let Jimmy and Monty know that there was time left rather than just the overs.

"And then a drink spilled on his (Anderson's) glove. There was a lot of confusion to be honest."

Australia captain Ricky Ponting was clearly unimpressed with what he labelled England's "ordinary" tactics but Strauss said: "I personally thought the game was played in a pretty good spirit the whole way through."

Meanwhile Collingwood, speaking ahead of England's second Test squad announcement on Monday, said: "We showed great character and heart, there is a lot of passion in that dressing room so we can take a lot from this."

Anderson, who batted for 72 minutes Sunday, said he sensed the game was going England's way when Ponting brought on part-time spinner North in an ultimately futile attempt to get through more than the statutory 15 overs in the final hour.

"They were putting a part-time spinner on and Monty was playing it very well," explained Anderson, who finished on 21 not out after resisting Australia for 53 balls.

Panesar, who like Anderson is also a left-handed batsman, thanked his "cricket buddy" Collingwood for helping him improve his game.

"I was pretty nervous when I got out there," said Panesar, who faced 35 balls for his unbeaten seven.

"But I'd been doing some work with Colly and Jimmy and I played straight, watched the ball hard and, thankfully, we are sitting here with a draw."