Pakistan v England, 3rd test, Dubai, 4th day February 6, 2012

England must learn to play in Asia - Strauss


Andrew Strauss has warned that England must learn the lessons of their 3-0 series whitewash at the hands of Pakistan or face more misery in Asian conditions.

England's 71-run loss in the third Test in Dubai condemned them to a 3-0 defeat in their first series since officially becoming ranked the No. 1 Test team. It was also the first series whitewash England had suffered since the 5-0 Ashes loss of 2006-07 and only the seventh in their history. With a two-Test tour to Sri Lanka coming up next month and a tour of India before Christmas, Strauss knows England have to improve in these conditions if they are to retain any hope of remaining the top-ranked side.

Strauss, England's Test captain, admitted that his team would do some "soul searching" over the coming days but insisted they would conduct a full debrief before making any decisions over the future of certain players. The positions of Ian Bell (who averaged 8.5 in the series), Kevin Pietersen (11.16) and Eoin Morgan (13.66) are all likely to come under scrutiny after England succumbed to their first series defeat since they lost to the West Indies in early 2009 and the first since Andy Flower was appointed to the position of permanent coach.

"We can't ignore this result and just say it's an aberration," Strauss said. "That would not help us. This was an eye-opener and a wake-up call and with two more tours on the subcontinent coming up, things won't get easier. We have to be up for this challenge.

"We have to look at the reasons we lost. We have to look at our preparation, our training, our techniques and our temperament. It would be wrong for us to ignore these things, but we also need to remain true to what has worked well in the past.

"No-one has a right to play for England forever. It would be patently wrong for us to think like that. But we also need to take time to let the dust settle. We need to look at what went wrong individually. Hopefully over the next week or two, things will become clearer.

"I have great faith in our batsmen," Strauss continued. "I think they are some of best be in world, but I am disappointed we haven't coped better. I haven't been involved in a series where so many batsmen have had a hard time. We all have some questions to answer and soul searching into how we can do things better. There was a consistent failure on our part. If you keep getting bowled out for 140 or 150 you're not going to win many Test matches. We could and should have been better."

Andy Flower, the England coach, suggested the long lay-off his players had enjoyed before the series might have been a contributory factor to the result. Before this tour England had not played Test cricket since the series against India finished in August last year and no cricket at all since the limited-overs series in October.

"Looking back now, I don't think we were ready," Flower said. "I shoulder that side of the blame because it was my decision to give them that time off. We won't let that happen again.

"We spent a couple of months out of the game and not doing a lot while Pakistan were beating Sri Lanka and working hard to beat Bangladesh and that hardened them up for this contest. Certainly during that rest time, our team and support staff were all being lauded and, while that was happening, Pakistan were working hard at their game and beating international opposition. Consequently one side was sharp and ready and one side wasn't and we've got to do something about that."

Flower also expressed his faith in the batting line-up, but confessed he was surprised at how they had struggled in the series. "We do have a lot of faith in our players and that faith has been justified over a long period of time," he said. "But we've obviously underperformed here badly. I've been surprised by how poorly we've batted.

"We have to take the lessons that have been learned here and improve our skills and improve out method for the Sri Lanka tour. A number of our big players have underperformed in this series. It was the first time that so many of our established Test crickets were out of runs and not feeling as confident as they usually do and not as clear in their method as they usually are."

Misbah-ul-Haq, meanwhile, said the whitewashing of England has sent "a strong message that the Pakistan team are back in cricket."

Pakistan's captain hailed his side's "wonderful achievement" after leading them to victory in the third Test. It was the fifth time that Pakistan had achieved a whitewash in a series of three matches or more.

Victory was especially sweet for Misbah given the context in which the series was played. The previous time these teams met, in 2010, the series was soured by allegations of corruption that subsequently led to three of the Pakistan team receiving jail sentences. The episode tarnished the reputation of Pakistan cricket and forced the side to rebuild with a new captain and several new players. Now, however, Misbah feels Pakistan cricket is in the news for the right reasons.

"We showed that we are a power in the cricketing world again," Misbah said. "Now is the time to give importance to the Pakistan team again. It is a wonderful thing for us. I can't describe in words how important this series was for our team.

"We just came out of such problems. But the way we have come out and the way we are progressing is wonderful. Everyone was ignoring us, but now they have to look at Pakistan cricket."

Pakistan, who were dismissed for just 99 on the first day of this game, also became the first team since 1907 to win a Test after being bowled out for under 100 in the first innings. Pakistan responded by limited England's first innings lead to 42, before centuries from Azhar Ali and Younis Khan seized the initiative for the hosts.

"Our bowlers did a wonderful job," Misbah said. "They cut down the lead and we knew that, if we were only behind by 100 on the first innings, we were still in the game. Then Azhar Ali and Younis Khan batted wonderfully. Their batting was the main thing that brought us back into the game."

Having proved their potency in these conditions, Misbah agreed that his team would be defined by their success overseas. "That's another challenge," Misbah said, "but this team loves challenges. We have it in our mind. We are focused on proving ourselves outside Pakistan.

"If you saw us in New Zealand, though, you would know we can do it. Conditions there were not easy for our team, but we performed well there and in the West Indies. We are looking forward to playing in South Africa and Australia and we will start our preparation now."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • karthik_raja on February 9, 2012, 8:32 GMT

    @Those who claim that English dont make excuses.. hmm.. The biggest excuse I hv heard so far is "Who cares abt ODI game/ODI WC..??" after their 5-0 loss in Ind.. And every1 knws which team is that.. dont u..?? lol..

  • karthik_raja on February 9, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    I don't understand how Eng batsmen go out of form all of a sudden.. Accept the fact.. They hv never proved themselves in Asian conditions.. And this failure is expected..

  • karthik_raja on February 9, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    @Nicholas Saunders.. What do u mean by "no excuses".?? Wt do u call "no play for long time"..?? Speculation abt Ajmal's action..?? "Better than Indian defeat overseas".?? "Oh.. We r not yet 8-0"..?? "Bell - Out of form"..?? Its these kinda statements made by Indians r called as excuses by so called pundits of game.. Ofcourse.. they cant make Injury excuses coz, they played with their first choice XI and full strength bowling attack unlike Indians.. And, Eng cant say "wait till u come back to Eng".. Coz, they hv already been to Eng and got deserved result.. Now, its pay back time for Asian teams.. lol..

  • karthik_raja on February 9, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    No "fighting hard" team is expected to lose a test match chasing 140+ in 130+ overs.. There is no fight back from this team @ all.. Period..

  • dummy4fb on February 7, 2012, 19:53 GMT

    Pleased to see no excuses and no mention of "when we get them back to England". I can think of 1 team in recent times who uses this as a regular excuse. Pleased to hear Strauss talking about playing in Asia as important, again unlike some others I could mention.

  • JG2704 on February 7, 2012, 19:01 GMT

    @ WeeBee on (February 07 2012, 06:54 AM GMT) Eng U19 were defeated in Bangladesh as were the Lions I believe. However the Lions just beat the Sri Lankan 2nd 11 - But of course your factual economy doesn't stretch that far

  • JG2704 on February 7, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    @Posted by Sutharman Paskaran on (February 07 2012, 04:38 AM GMT) respect . Nail on head my friend

  • JG2704 on February 7, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    @satish619chandar on (February 07 2012, 03:48 AM GMT) They could have brought in an in form bowler (Finn) for an out of form batsman. It is a worry but hopefully the SL bowling isn't as good as the Pak bowling and England will not be so fearful. Are you an Indian/SL or Pak fan BTW? Re our batting , well India's famed and proven batting line up disintegrated in England and then they keep playing pretty much the same team in Aus and it seemed that they were scared to drop any of the batsman who had performed well yesteryear but were on a downward spiral. So much so that many Indian fans lost patience. As an England fan I could see the same thing happening. The thing

  • GreenTeam-Elite on February 7, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    In my Opinion Strauss is a Down to Earth Person & Captain. Win / Lose is not a Big Issue It is Part of Our Life. We Should Just Learn from Our Loses and Welcome the New Bright Morning Where ALLAH Will also Help Us. Good Luck Strauss!!!

  • JG2704 on February 7, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    @Chris Ward on (February 07 2012, 00:24 AM GMT) Sorry bud. Before the series started Morgan was the last guy I'd have had in there. But Bell has just become worse and worse. At least Morgan was being positive and being ultra cautious wasn't working for him in the series anyway. In fact the only 2 batsmen who at times looked good playing that way were Trott and Cook and both are that sort of player anyway. KP and Morgan both looked less vulnerable when they learnt to come down the pitch. If I felt that batting got easier by playing ultra cautiously at first I'd agree but they looked to get more and more bogged down. I always said a 5 man bowling attack even before we started failing and Bres would add a little more (on paper) batting but Bell would be the one to go. Agree re our bowling. They must feel really peeved to come out on the wrong side of a ww after the effort they put in

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