Australia v England, 1st semi-final, ICC Champions Trophy, Centurion October 2, 2009

'If you live by the sword, you die by it' - Strauss


England came out swinging, went down for the count, rallied briefly and were then knocked clean out of the ring. After Tim Bresnan and Luke Wright had done a sterling job of rebuilding the innings, England were undone by some magnificent batting, with Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson adding an unbeaten 252 for the second wicket, an Australian record. Where England's top order had gone for broke, Australia played the percentages, and waltzed into yet another major final.

"We were definitely keen to go out and play our shots on a good wicket, and unfortunately it didn't come off for us today," said Andrew Strauss after the game. "It's one of those things. If you live by the sword, you die by it. It's frustrating. When you lose six wickets for a 100 runs on that sort of surface, you're always struggling. I thought Tim Bresnan played exceptionally well and Luke Wright supported him. We weren't completely out of the game at the halfway mark, but I did think it was a wicket on which 300 was the par score. We were still quite light, and needed three or four early wickets which we weren't able to get."

Strauss admitted the late-order revival had given him a little hope. South Africa and India had faltered while chasing targets in Centurion earlier in the tournament, but there were no such blips for Australia. "You always hope that under lights, it [the pitch] might misbehave a bit more," said Strauss. "And to be fair, there's pressure chasing a total like that. In order to make that pressure count in your favour, you need early wickets. We were able to get one, but Ponting and Watson played exceptionally well."

England came into this tournament with the mantra that they wouldn't "die wondering". When asked whether that approach had been taken to extremes in the semi-final, Strauss defended his players. "Any time you play a shot and it doesn't come off, you can be criticised for that. I think as a template going forward, we've got to keep playing our shots. That's important. We've got to get better at our skills so that the percentages are more and more in our favour. That's what we have to work on.

"I think it was refreshing to see the guys going out there and expressing themselves. I think they enjoy playing that way a lot more. To cope with these teams away from home, we need to do it more and more. There's obviously a case for playing the conditions a little bit better. But today was a good wicket, and it was just one of those days when the shots didn't come off for us."

After being beaten out of sight in the one-day series against Australia at home, Strauss said there were quite a few positives to take out of a tournament in which they beat both Sri Lanka and South Africa. "The seven matches against Australia, I think we went backwards," he said. "But over here, I think we've come forward a bit. I think the guys have gained some confidence and they have gone out and played in the right sort of manner.

"We always said that at the end of this is a bit of a watershed, and we have got to look at where we are as a side and how we can improve. We have got the five one-dayers against South Africa which will be a nice way to start that forward progress. We can take a lot from what we've done in this tournament. There's been some excellent cricket played by us. But if we're honest with ourselves, we're not close enough to the top two or three teams in the world yet. We've got a lot of hard work to do if we want to get there."

There was little hesitation when he was asked which team he now fancied to pick up the trophy. "It's hard to look past Australia," he said. "They're on a great run, they're the defending champions. They'll be hard to beat. Pakistan are capable of anything. They can beat anyone on their day, and New Zealand have got some good shot players as well. For me, Australia are favourites, but there's a lot of cricket still to be played."

England are the only major cricket-playing nation not to win a World Cup or an ICC Champions Trophy, but Strauss insisted that such facts had been far from the mind when he turned up for Friday's game. "This was a great opportunity for us to go some way to putting that right," he said. "We were really excited about playing Australia today. We'd obviously come off second-best against them in England, but we felt that with the type of cricket we were playing out here, we had a good chance of challenging them. But they were too good for us today. Their bowlers bowled very attacking lines and lengths, and asked some questions of our batsmen. That's one of the things they've got going in their favour. They've got a lot of variety in their bowling."

England's next assignment will see them back in South Africa in November, and this Champions Trophy campaign would have gone a long way towards finalising a squad for that series. "We'll have to sit down with the selectors in the next couple of days," said Strauss. "I think we've got some fairly strong ideas of where we want to go as a side. There may be one or two changes. I can't imagine that there'd be wholesale ones. "The guys go off and have a well-earned break, but in the back of our minds we'll know that the tour over here will be a tough one for us. It'll be a good gauge for where we are as a side, both in Tests and one-day cricket."

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alex on October 3, 2009, 16:16 GMT

    The England team really needs to look at themselves, they obviously have a serious attitude problem within their camp. Unimaginative tactics from Strauss, sticking with players who have one good innings in 5 matches/when they are in the last chance saloon, poor use of the batting powerplay and ridiculous comments such as "live by the sword" (more like live fast, die young) backed up by Swann saying that he'd rather England get all out for 140 playing their shots. In addition, English commentators/public who say "at least we won the Ashes" are completely narrow minded. Will they be saying that after we get a hiding in all forms of cricket on the tour to SA?

  • chandra on October 3, 2009, 14:46 GMT

    Where is England's big mouth "Swann" now? He boasted when they beat South Africa and asked to bring Aussies. From all the matches, this is the worst defeat that any team experienced. England were lucky to beat Sri Lanka (pitch help them). On a flat pitch they flop as they always do. Without Kevin & Freddy they are nothing. My advice to Swann is let the bat & ball to talk.

  • G on October 3, 2009, 13:55 GMT

    For a long time we have watched England falter, with occasional successes, usually led by those from other shores.

    The comment under the picture accompanying this article says it all,

    Translation, 'We cant play cricket well enough to win.'

    The sad thing is, they expect the world to take them seriously, instead of relegating them to the likes of Bangladesh or the Netherlands.

    If they spent as much on their training as they seem to do on their speech-making spin-doctor, they would undoubtedly improve.

  • Muthuvel on October 3, 2009, 12:20 GMT

    england and india are similar teams, they are mentally fragile. Both the teams never bully an other team there is never a case of out standing domination like australia or pakistan or even srilanka just rare moments of good skill display and then extended moments of mediocrity. Poor lovelable teams both.

  • P Clement on October 3, 2009, 11:44 GMT

    I really don't have any idea why strauss has said "If you Live by the sword, You Die By it"....The reason could just be that England have never won a match due to their own strengths in the last few months..They have been thrashed all around and in CT they were really lucky to have stuart broad clicking and winning two matches...And against australia stuart broad's injured buttock muscle did them out...If he commented keeping in mind the team's losing habits , then it is completely acceptable.Moreover the body language of the english players were horrible...I don not know how a captain can afford to laugh when his side is six down for a mere 106 in a semifinal !!!!

  • Cric on October 3, 2009, 9:28 GMT

    the think i dont understand about england is that they have very talented players in domestic cricket but dont call them up to play unless they score 5000+ runs or 500 wickets in first class cricket, they dont bring in young players that have talent like wayne parnell or mohammed ammer which has worked for pakistan and west indies were forced to bring in some new faces and youngsters like there bowlers which can now contest for the proper team. england have many

  • Satish on October 3, 2009, 8:16 GMT

    It is sad to see that people don't believe England is a good ODI side inspite of playing well in this tournament. Part of the assessment made by most of them is true, because England have been inconsistent, just like Andrew Strauss said," When we are good, we are very good but when we are bad we are pathetic." He was once again proved right yesterday when he and his fellow batsmen scored just 101/6 and had it not been for some stellar display by their number 7 & 8 viz. Luke Wright and Tim Bresnan. Unfortunately, what these two did, Watson and Ponting did better.

    This tournament has gone a long way in proving that England has that X factor, which is needed to win big tournaments. Australia has shut all of us up so far with mind boggling performances, no matter if the match was at the Wanderers or at the Centurion, their batsmen have adjusted with ease. Yes, they are not the same team that won the 2007 World Cup, but they are still unbeaten in this tournament.

  • Shrinivas on October 3, 2009, 8:15 GMT

    If you ask me CT'09 has been one of THE most poorly organised tournaments. I mean you win 2 matches and you are in the semis. It plaily defies logic. Secondly, how could you exclude Bangladesh when they thrashed WI in their own backyard just recently. If you ask me CT has only worsened the crisis ODI's are facing.

  • Rohit on October 3, 2009, 7:43 GMT

    I dont understand English mentality!!!! They loose host of one-day matches, come and win 2 matches to be in SemiFinal of Champions Trophy and English press calls it Superb England???? Owais Shah score a century and started saying that they can go and win the tournament!!! I thought you can be superb only if you did it consistently over a period of time. Strauss says they have come forward a bit. Next series would seriously show if they really have.. Its good to be optimistic but should have some basis to support that. England is simply incompetent and they have shown it over the years.

  • Gomnie on October 3, 2009, 7:19 GMT

    Australia have done well to beat England so convincingly. Bear in mind that England are not as weak as they used to be, and that Australia really destroyed them. Australia won't stay down for long, but I can't see them beating the winners of the other semi. NZ/Pak are stronger than Aus at the moment despite their political/injury problems.

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