Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 4th day January 28, 2012

One of my most painful defeats - Strauss


Andrew Strauss has described England's defeat against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi as among the most painful of his career.

Strauss, the England captain, top scored with 32 as his side was dismissed for 72 in pursuit of a target of 145. It was England's lowest total against Pakistan and only the second time they failed to chase a target of under 150 in the fourth innings in more than a century. The result condemned them to their first series defeat since losing in the West Indies in 2009 and jeopardised their reign as the world's No. 1 Test team. If England fail to win the final Test and South Africa inflict a 3-0 defeat upon New Zealand, then South Africa will usurp England.

To make the defeat all the more galling, England had several opportunities to win. Not only was their target modest but, had Kevin Pietersen hit the stumps with a simple throw on day three to run out Asad Shafiq, Pakistan's key second-innings partnership would have been ended. In the context of a low-scoring game, the extra 49 runs the pair added were vital.

"It is a struggle to think of a loss that has hurt more than this," Strauss said. "It's bitterly disappointing to lose a game you should have won. These are the games that hurt the most, because you feel like you've done everything you can to win the game - and then you aren't able to nail the final nail in the coffin.

Strauss' disappointment was increased by the sense that England had failed a significant challenge. Winning in Asian conditions remains the Holy Grail for England and, after the success of the last couple of years, they felt they had an excellent opportunity on this tour. He was, however, frank when assessing where England had gone wrong.

"I said at the start of this tour, this is the final frontier," Strauss said. "England teams haven't done very well out here [in Asia] in the past. We felt like we had a great chance to win this series, but I think the fact that we got rolled over twice in Dubai meant that there was some baggage there going into this final innings. Test cricket is hard and it exposes any vulnerability or weaknesses you have.

"As a batting unit we have to hold our hands up and say we haven't done well enough. We have been rolled over three times in four innings this series. There are no excuses - we need to be better than that.

"We just didn't play well enough, individually or collectively. Individually we've not been clear enough in our game plans against spin, we've not been clear enough in our methods of where our scoring areas are, and we've allowed pressure to build."

Strauss admitted that England's cautious approach might have contributed to the defeat. England were almost strokeless at times, with Alastair Cook labouring for 15 overs for his seven runs.

"It is easy to get caught between two stools," Strauss said. "You don't know whether to be patient or to take the bull by the horns. There is always a balance to strike between attack and defence and ultimately we didn't do it right. I'm a strong believer that players should play their natural game in positions like this, but it was a bit unfortunate that our attacking players were out very quickly."

Strauss was also keen to credit Pakistan for their performance. "It's very important in circumstances like this, and particularly after this game, to give a lot of credit to Pakistan," he said. "They were outstanding. They've been a good, close-knit unit - and they've got some very good spin bowlers. Ultimately, they've played better cricket than we did."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ijaz on January 30, 2012, 20:59 GMT

    Strauss was also keen to credit Pakistan for their performance. "It's very important in circumstances like this, and particularly after this game, to give a lot of credit to Pakistan," he said Strauss: atleast you have the balls to accept your defeat without blaming someone who was in a sleeless shirt to ran through Team England's defenses. Thanks for crediting the opposition team for playing a better game than yours.

  • Dummy4 on January 30, 2012, 16:18 GMT

    Commiserations on the loss but England played well three quarters of the time. Both teams produced a wonderful game of cricket and the series. England reman one of the best teams there is. Adaptation is an issue for any sportsman/sportswoman - be it cricket, tennis etc. International travel and destinations do matter irrespective of the background. For Pakistan Middle East is as alien!

  • John on January 30, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    @LillianThomson on (January 29 2012, 03:00 AM GMT) - Regardless of what I think of your comments there is nothing to say that England can't drop one of their out of form batsmen and bring in Finn who is in form and would strengthen our bowling further. To be honest I do slightly worry about our bench strength in batting which is why I'd prefer them to adopt a 5/1/5 formation. I would say right now our whole batting line up )possibly bar Trott and Cook are a big worry and I feel the problem could now have become as much mental as physical

  • John on January 30, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @RoJayao on (January 29 2012, 02:19 AM GMT) - You say team England is arrogant. Give some examples please? If you find none ,please refrain from posting such empty meaningless comments

  • John on January 30, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @Garp on (January 28 2012, 18:15 PM GMT) - Thought I read on ESPN Strauss and co went to do a boot camp in India just before Christmas. Not noticing any complaining from the England boys here although sometimes it seems that schedules dictate that we squeeze a massive amount of cricket into a short space of time and then possibly have too much time off rather than scheduling it evenly

  • John on January 30, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @iBilal on (January 28 2012, 18:20 PM GMT) Bud , decent comms again , but personally I feel worse than after the 1st game. In the 1st game we were never in it. In this game we were slight favourites throughout until our bowlers reduced our target to less that 150. I was out for most of the collapse in the 2nd inns and followed it on the radio and was not mentally strong enough to watch the highlights or should I call them as an Eng fan lowlights? Anyway , regardless of how I feel about our batsmen , full credit to team Pakistan for fighting with passion. Something which maybe England have been missing in terms of attributes from opposition

  • John on January 30, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    @USA_XI on (January 28 2012, 18:40 PM GMT) - Pak are the best form side but England's win ratio over recent years ensure they stay at 1 at least until SA play again. Pak - because of results pre 2011 - had fallen behind in the rankings so do not automatically leapfrog everyone to get to number 1. It's like a continual league table format and if the top team has built up a significant lead , then if another team is so far behind then it is impossible for that team to catch the number 1 side until they have played a certain amount of games whereby they continue to win and the team they are chasing don't win. BTW you say you would give anything to see Pak become number 1 side - so would that include the possibility of India returning to number 1?

  • Harris on January 30, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    @ warnerbasher: I think you have forgot the beating Pakistan gave you in recent past mate (2 Test draw in england & WC 2011 defeat) what you just said? home doctored pitches? this is not subcontinent this is gulf make it clear in your head (if you do have something between your ears) at the moment the side jumping and dancing is the Kangaroos enjoying their wins on home tailor made pitches against an expired Indian bunch of dead stars. Weren't You all out for 47 just a couple of month ago & similar was the beating you took from an OK sort of NZ side? So stay away from this contest between two good fighting sides. All your doubts will fade away when you face this new transformed Pakistan side.

  • Keith on January 30, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    (cont'd - 3) The only way out of this thicket of potential failure is the proposed Test Championship. But then comes the kicker: Under what ground conditions should it be played? As things stand now, that question is literally unanswerable. It turns out that the TC is a mirage, at least until the crucial matter of equitable ground conditions is addressed. Either the ICC takes charge of ground preparation throughout the cricketing world and sets enforceable global standards, or Test cricket is liable well and truly to sink out of sight into frustrated irrelevance, its claims to being the pinnacle of the sport shot to pieces by fast bowlers on grass and spinners on dust.

  • Keith on January 30, 2012, 9:40 GMT

    (Cont'd) The absence of a 'final frontier' weakens Test cricket dramatically at the very moment in its history when the Test player resource base is most in doubt due to the enhanced revenue and salaries associated with ODI and especially T20 league play. This could really prove FATAL, because it could seriously damage viewer interest in Tests even in places like England, Australia and South Africa where such interest is currently sufficient. Only the Ashes would likely survive due to its long-term context and the relative parity of English and Australian ground conditions. South Africa lacks the context, but reasonable parity with England and Australia conditions would likely preserve at least moderate interest. As for the Asian nations, it would be the ultimate crisis arising from a lack of meaningful context combined with unplayable conditions to tourists in the subcontinent and Asian sides touring overseas. ... (TBC)

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