England v India, 1st npower Test, Lord's, 5th day July 25, 2011

Strauss hails 'outstanding' England


There was no shortage of superlatives as England basked in the glow of their 196-run victory at Lord's with Andrew Strauss terming their success at taking 20 wickets a near-perfect effort and calling Kevin Pietersen's match-defining double hundred one of the finest innings he has seen. Beating the world No. 1 side can have that effect.

Strauss's comments are hard to argue with. Except for an unusually high number of dropped catches - the captain himself was responsible for two, including missing Sachin Tendulkar today - there were few holes to pick in England's complete performance. Some might mention about the top-order wobble in the second innings, yet the way Matt Prior led the stirring recovery only went to highlight the belief this team has.

The game was set up by Pietersen and consolidated by Prior, but England's bowlers will be rightly lauded for extracting India twice. The pitch offered a little more than recent surfaces here, yet it wasn't one that warranted such a star-studded line-up being removed for less than 300 twice. Given the pre-match talk, Stuart Broad has understandably grabbed the attention but Chris Tremlett - who Strauss called the "real deal" after he troubled all the batsmen - was colossal in both innings and James Anderson sparked into life on the final day with devastating effect by claiming 5 for 65, including Tendulkar for the sixth time in Tests.

"I think over the two innings that was as close to the perfect bowling performance we've had in the last two years and that is saying a lot because we have had a lot of exceptional performances," Strauss said. "It was an outstanding effort by the whole attack over five days. You do have to work hard for your wickets here and I think it showed the value of persistent lines and lengths. That's the only way of taking wickets here and I think we did that brilliantly."

Broad's Test future was on the line coming into this match. He was given a show of confidence by being preferred to Tim Bresnan but had to repay the faith. The end product was his finest performance in an England shirt, seven wickets in the match and an unbeaten 74, eclipsing that of The Oval in 2009 because the pitch offered him less help.

"It was outstanding," Strauss said. "When your place in the side is called into question it's a big test of character as much as anything. Stuart showed immense character over five days. He bowled very well and his second-innings 70 was crucial to the outcome of the game. He showed his class and it was a timely reminder to everyone of what a great talent he is."

Broad could easily have been Man of the Match, especially given his half-century, but England set up their victory by surviving the truncated first day just two wickets down then building a commanding 474 as the sun began to shine. Pietersen's unbeaten 202 was reward for battling through the tough conditions.

"That first innings total was a magnificent performance and Kevin was mainly responsible for that," Strauss said. "That was one of the great innings I've seen since being involved, in very difficult circumstances. He had to be smart in the way be played their seamers, he had to graft and then when we had the opportunity to attack, he attacked."

With the No. 1 spot there for the taking if England win the series by two clear Tests, comparisons are never far away with the last time they challenged for the crown in 2005. On that occasion they faded before being able to overtake Australia, but before this match Strauss was bullish that his team are now ready for the mantle and this result has supported his belief.

"It's a pretty worthless pursuit comparing teams, but what I like is that there are no obvious weaknesses in our team as was the case in 2005," he said. "We have a good mix of youthful experience, guys who are reasonably young but quite experienced now and who know their role in the side. It's a good recipe for success but doesn't guarantee you anything next time you play."

That next time will be in four days at Trent Bridge and England have named an unchanged 12-man squad with Bresnan retaining his place. Tremlett suffered a small amount of pain in his hamstring during Lord's, but didn't appear troubled on the final day during any of his spells. India can expect another tough examination; Nottingham often provides a pitch that helps the pace bowlers.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mike on July 28, 2011, 1:16 GMT

    Damn, if I hear one more person going on about india bouncing back I am gonna die of boredom. Ok, we get the point you came back a few times in the recent past, it's what your supposed to do when you go 1-0 down. Anyway law of averages and quality of opposition tells me it won't happen this time around, we shall see I guess.

    Would be better though if you actually concentrated on NOT going 1-0 down though, just a suggestion. :p

  • Anver on July 27, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    Eng team is on the rise to top in tests, ever since they retained the Ashes......... under Strauss team's unity & the hunger for wins is admirable !!!!!! Cooooooool

  • rahul on July 27, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    yuvraj should be picked instead of harbhajan . he has better chance of taking wickets than harbhajan with his leg spin( atleast of kp) . with addition of yuvraj our batting will become strong to no. 8 . yuvraj can also make runs quickly . also many experts are commenting about india 's defeat and not to perform a/q to their no.1 status . well any team can lose match if they not perform well . even australians lost in india and england in 2001 & 2005 when they are at their best .

  • Hollis on July 26, 2011, 21:45 GMT

    I am not an English fan but let's face it squarely, India was thrashed by England at Lords, good and proper, one bowler short or not. When one reads most of the comments there are so manty ''ifs ". Why not suggest the players focus on the next test because before you know it , England may be leading 3 - 0 . After boasting recently in the Windies that their team was their C team, you now want to drop the Terminator of all persons after one test. Have some faith in your India A team, but rest assured is more pace in your waist at Trent bridge !

  • Sajid on July 26, 2011, 17:59 GMT

    @kevinpp24 ..I agree. Good observation.

  • Koduvayur on July 26, 2011, 16:33 GMT

    yuvi in. open with dravid. drop harbhajan and bring in mishra as the pommies are susceptible to leg spin. sree for zak. for sure yuvi and sree will be motivated to prove a point. if indian batting plays well they can still make something out of the series. it is basically still indian batting vs english bowling.

  • Srinivas on July 26, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    Very well played England. I'm mighty impressed. But, my Man of the Match is Dhoni. He helped England immensely with his Captaincy. Didn't he?

  • Dummy4 on July 26, 2011, 15:59 GMT

    @Francis Barton

    Geraint Jones really wasn't anything more than a mediocre keeper and his batting, which was only a tick above average, kept him in ahead of someone like Chris Read at the time. Also, I believe Shaun Udal was also in the team at the time who was pretty terrible and Giles was nothing to write home about later. Ian Bell was still finding his footing on the international stage as well so he could be referring to any of those players really.

    Anyways, England are definitely well positioned to be the best team in test cricket alongside stiff competition from South Africa. India as always are a solid team but you cannot expect to remain on top when you don't have a bowling lineup that can take twenty wickets.

  • Dummy4 on July 26, 2011, 15:37 GMT

    @Francis Barton - No, that's saying that there were no weaknesses then either.

  • Martin on July 26, 2011, 14:39 GMT

    Hey! @yorkslanka; yes indeed, the wombats are never far away - rooting out and sinking their teeth into anything ripe for comment. Here's an observation though - I think Sri Lanka could have batted that out yesterday! I came away from Lords and thought - that was a totally flat pitch, what on earth were india doing? Laxman in particular played a crazy shot. @Shan156 - who met me at lunch :-) said that he is a stroke maker, and that's the way he plays. But phew! When you are 50 odd not out and the team is relying on you to help save the game - that was not the shot to play. Dhoni too - that was not a smart shot. I don't think Sri Lankan batsmen would have played like that, they would play for their team, not themselves.

  • No featured comments at the moment.