England v Australia, 4th ODI, The Oval June 30, 2010

Andrew Strauss upset at whitewash that got away


Andrew Strauss admitted he was "annoyed" that England had let slip the chance of a 5-0 whitewash against Australia, but played down suggestions that he had erred tactically in once again choosing to bowl first after winning the toss. After allowing Australia first use of a fast and true wicket, England were set an imposing target of 291, their highest run-chase of the series so far, but were bundled out by Ryan Harris for 212 in 42.4 overs.

"We didn't get enough things right today," said Strauss. "We got off to a pretty good start with the ball, but [Michael] Clarke and [Ricky] Ponting played really well in the middle period, where we had done best in the first three games. We struggled to find ways of 'dotting them up', which was a little bit frustrating. We tried seven bowlers, but on a flat wicket it was easy to hit through the line of the ball."

Bowling first has been England's modus operandi throughout the series to date, even though such a tactic flies in the face of conventional wisdom. With a varied attack that had helped to carry England to a run of eight ODI victories in a row - their best run of form since the 1992 World Cup - and batsmen of the calibre of Eoin Morgan and Kevin Pietersen, England believe they have the personnel to keep any target within reach. But that notion received a bit of a reality check on a chastening day at The Oval.

"It wasn't as good a performance as the first three, and we've got what we've deserved," said Strauss. "The idea of chasing down anything Australia set us has worked pretty well in the first three games - and we didn't see any particular reason to change that today. When you lose in that fashion, you always think 'Well, maybe we should have batted first'. But I'm pretty comfortable with that decision. I just don't think we did enough things well today."

England have improved markedly as a one-day unit in recent months, but as Ponting made clear with his memorable "bragging rights" comment at Cardiff, they have an awfully long way to go to match the achievements and consistency of Australia's one-day side - who, after all, haven't lost a single World Cup match in the whole of the 21st Century. Another victory at Lord's on Saturday would transform that 5-0 ambition into a far less imposing 3-2 result. It remains to be seen whether Strauss sticks to his guns by fielding first in that game.

"You've got to play to your strengths, it's as simple as that," was Ponting's take on the tactics. "If they think it's in their interests to keep chasing they'll keep doing it. They obviously like bowling first and trying to chase the runs down, although it's not my preferred way of playing. If it's dry when you start, it always gets that little bit tougher and it makes chasing hard.

"But I wasn't as surprised they bowled first as I was at Manchester," Ponting added. "That was a wicket I thought looked particularly dry and hard to chase on, and as the game went on it certainly was that. But they seem to be very structured in everything they are doing at the moment, the way they are playing their cricket. We'll see what they do at Lord's."

For Strauss, the disappointment of the result was tempered by the small successes that came out of the game, such as Michael Yardy's maiden ODI fifty - a tenacious but even-tempoed 57 from 63 balls that prevented England's challenge from disintegrating until the final ten overs.

"He played really well, and has played a lot of innings like that for Sussex - knocking the ball around, accumulating pretty quickly, and clearly we needed him to do that today," said Strauss. "He stepped up to the plate - and on the back of his bowling in the first three games, it was good to see him scoring some runs. If you haven't scored a one-day international fifty before, the first one is very important - regardless of the situation of the game.

"The whitewash wasn't a secret hope. We were very hopeful we could do it," he said. "What we were trying to focus on was getting it to 4-0, trying not to look too far ahead. But Australia did what you expect them to do; they came back hard at us today and put in the better performances. They had three excellent performances in the game, and that's why they won."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lou on July 4, 2010, 12:57 GMT

    If he as annoyed at the whitewash slipping out of his control, how does he feel about 2 games. Miffed? Put-out? Possibly even ruffled?

  • Jos on July 2, 2010, 12:13 GMT

    @Marcio, same old Aussies, always whining. I note with interest I've not heard anything about Collingwood being given out LBW to a ball which pitched outside off and turned away from him... Suck it up pal. Every side gets some bad decisions, and they get some good ones. Live with it.

  • Bob on July 2, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    To mus_78, the only thing that baffles me about "this Andy Flower character" is how he has managed to get England's ODI/T20 teams playing as well as they ever have over the last 30 years. Questioning his selection policy at the moment is utterly bizarre. (Shah and Bopara have both contributed very well for us, but also have proved to be a little shaky on the mental side of the game - that is why they are not in the team right now.)

  • Asif on July 2, 2010, 5:33 GMT

    Beating Aussies 5-0 is like heating 12 6's in 12 balls. They come hard when they are wounded. In my opinion, any team can beat them at WC Final, but winning series 5-0 is like very very tough. Strauss should be happy at-least they won the series.

  • Steve on July 2, 2010, 2:29 GMT

    @Inet Surfur: the "luck" you talk about cuts both ways. India's bad luck!!! Look at the hat-trick taken by Bhajji in that great series vs Aus and see how many of them should have been given out - answer 1.

    You can always justify a loss by saying that you didn't get the rub of the umpires decisions. I have never heard the Australian team complain about decisions not going their way, rather they acknowledge that occasionally you get a bad one and it will be evened out by a bad one the other way.

    My guess is that game 5 will be very close and Aus will just win.

  • Dummy4 on July 2, 2010, 0:22 GMT

    When Aussies visited India recently poor umpiring ( from Indian umpires) costed India series. So Aussies are not unconquerable they used to be once. ( Sachin at Mohali and Dhoni at Guahati)

  • Mustafa on July 1, 2010, 20:55 GMT

    To me, this Andy Flower character seems really baffling. Pietersen has been going through a major slump and hasn't been consistence ever seen his return from the injury. And yet, he is being picked up again and again. Similarly, Wright has increasingly becoming a liability and hasn't been consistence at all. It makes me feel sorry for guys like Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara. Specially, Shah, who after had been prolific for couple of years got dumped all of a sudden. Can anyone please justify Andy Flower's action and selection choices? It is simply mystifying.

  • Christopher on July 1, 2010, 20:24 GMT

    You can't blame Strauss for being annoyed, it seems these so-called superstars (KP, Collingwood) fail on a more consistent basis than they succeed. I've followed every England International Cricket match since 2004 and it has been a long time since KP had delivered the goods on any regular basis. Collingwood I'll give a little more leeway since he is just coming off a vacation and needs to rediscover his touch. Another thing is what happened to Broad and Swanns ability to swing a bat? This has always seemed to be one of our problems though, we win a couple of matches and it seems like the players think they'll win without the effort. They have one game left to set it straight lets hope they can do so without relying solely on Morgan and Strauss to get all the runs.

  • Dummy4 on July 1, 2010, 19:13 GMT

    Where does Andrew Strauss claim a "near miss"? Not in the text of the article and not in the video clip. This was down to a misguided headline writer so please stop blaming Strauss for saying something he never said.

  • Marcio on July 1, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    Sure Inet, Sufer, Australia got where they are because of luck. Keep dreaming. In fact they have had an extraordinary amount of bad luck in the last five years, and many key umpiring decisions have gone against them - but keep coming back. They don't make excuses.

    Australia has a lot of depth in both batting and bowling, despite what the naysayers said in the first couple of games when they had an experimental bowling lineup.

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