Thursday, September 10, 2009

Strauss: It feels like Groundhog Day

England are running out of chances to turn their one-day batting around and face a landslide NatWest Series defeat unless they respond immediately.

Captain Andrew Strauss admitted it felt like Groundhog Day as Australia took a 3-0 NatWest Series lead at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday night.

Once again it was a failure by the batsmen to post significant scores which inflicted the damage, as they posted a modest 228 for nine in the floodlit encounter.

Only Strauss himself with 63 and Middlesex colleague Eoin Morgan, of the top order, played with any fluency on a slow surface.

Australian number three Cameron White, only in the position because of Ricky Ponting's rest period, then showed the hosts the way with a match-winning 105 as the Australians won by six wickets.

"It's feeling a bit like Groundhog Day with the batting, to be honest," said Strauss, whose side must now win all four remaining matches to take the series.

"It's mainly a confidence thing. The guys in the top six have earned the right to play for England and they are not bad players.

"I am as culpable as anyone in these first three games.

"I'm batting really well and when you're batting really well you need to make hay."

Having won the Ashes, England are now in danger of suffering a damaging campaign result ahead of the Champions Trophy.

So there is a lot to be gained from improving a losing sequence to Australia in 50-over cricket, which now stands at 10 defeats in 13 matches.

"Every time you pull on an England shirt there's a chance to achieve something," said Strauss, dismissing suggestions of a carefree attitude post-Ashes.

"We are not good enough as a one-day side to go easy.

"We've got to be honest with ourselves and have a look at it, in terms of how we can improve. One-day cricket you can't go into your shell and grind it out, you've got to play with enough confidence to put a competitive score on the board, but at the same time make good decisions.

"The absence of Kevin Pietersen, a world-class player, has left a hole to be filled, but other guys getting a chance now and it's important that as a group they make up for the loss of him not being here.

"People need to take their opportunity, and we haven't done that well enough so far."

Australia captain Michael Clarke, who contributed a dogged 52 to a third-wicket stand of 143 with White, admitted: "If they had scored 20 runs more I think that would have been a pretty tricky target to chase down on that pitch."

Ironically, this is likely to have been White's third and final innings at first-wicket down for a while, with Ponting primed for a return in the fourth match at Lord's on Saturday.

Stuart Broad should also return at the weekend, having been rested for the third match but opening batsman Joe Denly is not certain to be available due to his lingering knee injury.

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