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May 27, 2008
Andrew Strauss, whose 106 at Old Trafford guided England's successful chase of 294 to beat New Zealand, has backed his struggling team-mates' form in spite of their continued failure to post big totals.
England haven't made 400 in their first innings since the Chester-le-Street Test against West Indies in 2007 (11 Tests ago) and although they bounced back to beat New Zealand in the winter, there is a concern their batsmen have lost the fluency which marked their game three or four years ago.
"It's hard work when you're not scoring as many runs as you want to," Strauss told PA. "I didn't realise how hard it was until I went through it. From my point of view I'm very lucky to have got the chance to come back and show I wasn't a spent force and had an opportunity in the side when some people thought that I shouldn't be in there.
"It's very much the case with the guys that are struggling a bit at the moment, but they'll come through it, there's no doubt about that. You only have to look at the records of the guys in the top six to see we've got a very strong batting line-up."
Paul Collingwood (24*) and Ian Bell (21*) saw England to their target yesterday with an unbroken stand of 46, but both have struggled with their form. Coincidentally, Collingwood's last hundred was made against West Indies at Chester-le-Street - the last time England reached 400 in their first innings - while in this series, Bell has scores of 16, 8 and an unbeaten 21 yesterday.
"When we start winning games in a row and building up momentum that will help the guys to score runs and by scoring runs it will help us win more games. If a few of the guys are in good form, that's going to rub off on the other guys."
"Having Bell and Collingwood out there at the end to hit the winning runs, should give them a massive confidence boost," Michael Vaughan added. "They were under a lot of pressure, they know that, and came through it. We are a lot happier as a team because we looked like going 1-0 down in the series, but we're now 1-0 up with a great opportunity of winning."
The third and final Test against New Zealand gets underway in Nottingham on Thursday week.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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