Warne dismisses Strauss threat
Shane Warne has taken another swipe at England's Ashes prospects by writing off the threat posed by Andrew Strauss, whose disappointing start to the season continued at the Rose Bowl yesterday.
Strauss could make only 19 in Middlesex's second innings, before being bowled by Warne to precipitate a 64-run defeat, which took his tally for the season to a paltry 81 runs from six innings. By way of contrast, after the same number of innings against South Africa this winter, Strauss had amassed the small matter of 465 runs.
"I wanted to have a look at him and see if he had a game-plan against me, but I don't really see it as a psychological boost [to get him out]," Warne told reporters afterwards. "That was the first time I've ever bowled against him and I liked what I saw. He walked across to let balls go, and when he tried to reverse-sweep I thought it was a sign that he wasn't sure what to do."
Strauss has made a phenomenal start to his Test career, with 1246 runs in 12 Tests, nine of which have ended up in an England victory. But one notable blank on his CV to date is a performance against a world-class spinner. To date, the best he has faced is New Zealand's Daniel Vettori, who did not enjoy the best of tours in early 2004, while West Indies had no specialist spinner at all, and South Africa did not lean too heavily on Nicky Boje.
Given the hold that Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie have had over Mike Atherton and Marcus Trescothick in recent Ashes encounters, England's prospects will take a serious nosedive if Warne's early success against Strauss is replicated come the start of this year's series.