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Gooch delivers honest assessment

Graham Gooch feels England's batsmen can do better than they managed on day one of the LV= Challenge against Essex at Chelmsford.

Little-known leg-spinner Tom Craddock, by his own admission, had the best day of his career - "no doubt" - when taking three wickets, including that of Kevin Pietersen, as England's top seven all reached double-figures but none a half-century.

Yet, on a pitch Essex captain Ravi Bopara described as one of the best he has seen at the ground in several years, England were indebted to a century alliance between half-centurions Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan.

Those in the top order should have one more innings each in this four-day match to put their game in order in time for the first Investec Ashes Test against Australia on July 10.

Gooch said: "It's a fair total. But we'd have liked some of our top order to spend more time at the crease, and capitalise on their starts.

"You want your main batsmen to get into a bit of rhythm, get their games in order so that we're building up to peak next week.

"You've got to bat long. Once you get in, you've got to capitalise on that. Certainly, come this Test series, if we get starts we've got to put big totals on the board."

England's batsmen know that, of course, without Gooch having to tell them.

"The job of the batters is to create an opportunity for your bowlers to win the match," he added. "That's their job, and they know it is.

"It wasn't a disaster today. But obviously some of the guys would have liked to spend more time out there."

Gooch does not see the switch from one-day international cricket in the Champions Trophy only a week ago to the longer format as a feasible reason for any shortcomings.

"I certainly wouldn't make excuses," he said. "We've played a lot of one-day cricket recently against the white ball ... you have to make that adjustment pretty much straight away (but) I don't think any of our players would make that excuse.

"Some of the Essex bowlers did their job, okay. I don't think they tore up any trees, but they stuck at it.

"Our guys got in, and some of them got out. They won't be happy with that. So next time they've got a chance, they've got to do a better job."

Essex’s pre-determined decision to bowl first gave Craddock his opportunity to make a name for himself - which he did, despite some inevitable early misgivings at having to come on to a well-set Pietersen.

"I've watched him for a few years now, growing up, and I know he'll happily take down spinners," said the 23-year-old Yorkshireman.

"When Ravi chucked me the ball, there was Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell stood there. So I just thought 'if I can land a few and join a few dots at KP I'll be happy'.

"But luckily he gave me a caught-and-bowled chance ... taking three is a surreal day."

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