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November 7, 2010
Andrew Strauss's first senior hundred in Australia ensured that England began their Ashes campaign with a win against Western Australia, but he chose to focus on the achievements of his bowlers in getting the team back into the game after their opponents had started the day in the strong position of 1 for 109.
"We're very pleased, especially because of the position of the game at start of play," he said. "It was looking like a tough ask to force a result from there. But we had two choices. We could have come here and gone through the motions today - but what we did was come in and hit the ground running."
Steven Finn's early dismissal of Michael Swart exposed Western Australia's middle order and sparked their collapse to Graeme Swann's spin and Stuart Broad's seam, and Strauss credited the young bowler's turnaround after he had struggled to find the right length in the first innings.
"Steven bowled an outstanding spell right from the start, and we got some momentum. We're delighted with the way the bowlers bowled, and it was a good effort from the batters to chase down that score. Steven was rusty in the first innings, but got better as it went on.
"Anderson and Broad were spot on in that first innings, but Finny really set the tone today. He was consistent length-wise and caused all the batsmen some trouble. That was really encouraging, as was the way the bowlers bowled in partnerships and applied pressure. That's what you've got to do out here."
At one stage of their second-innings capitulation, Western Australia lost four wickets for 12 runs and one of those dismissals - that of captain Marcus North - arrived via an inspired piece of fielding from Eoin Morgan. Morgan had only been on the field for one over so that Strauss could take a bathroom break, and the England captain joked after the game: "I was in the loo actually. It was an inspired bit of captaincy on my part."
Even more inspired was Strauss's aggressive ton, as he did more than simply anchor England's pursuit of 243 in 52 overs. Strauss insisted that time at the crease was vital to his batsmen's acclimatisation, but conceded that they were likely to face much sterner challenges from Australia's Test attack.
"It's important we play well and win as many of these games as possible. It's also important that batsmen get used to the conditions. The best way to do that is by spending a lot of time in the middle. It was satisfying to get a hundred and see the guys home. But I'm sure there are sterner tests ahead. It's always good to get runs early in the tour, but it doesn't count for anything come the first Test match."
Strauss was particularly pleased with England's increasing intensity in the field as the match wore on. "None of us have played any cricket for a few weeks," he added. "In the first innings, I thought we got stuck in net mode a little bit and probably didn't react as well to the conditions as we could have done.
"We were better second time round, and I hope we should get better with every innings we play. These conditions are different to England, so your shot selection has to be slightly different and the balls you score off are slightly different. There are times you've got to be patient, probably more so than in England."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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