Strauss buoyant after Brisbane draw
Captain Andrew Strauss says England will head for Adelaide tomorrow confident they can win the Ashes after Alastair Cook led their second-innings escape from the Gabba.
Cook was the cornerstone in record stands of 188 with his skipper and fellow opener Strauss and then an all-comers’ best against Australia Down Under of 329 with Jonathan Trott for the second wicket.
He finished unbeaten on 235 - his first double-hundred in first-class cricket - alongside Trott, who made 135 not out, as England declared on an astonishing 517 for one.
After Strauss’ 110, this was the first instance since 1924 of England’s top three batsmen each making centuries.
The circumstances of the feat made it all the more notable, after England had begun their second innings needing 221 simply to make their hosts bat again in the first Ashes Test.
By the time Strauss called time on his deputy Cook - after 10 and a half hours, 428 balls faced and 26 fours struck - England had the luxury of inviting their hosts to bat again.
With no realistic prospect of chasing a notional 297 to win in 41 overs, it was at least a successful exercise in damage limitation for Australia that captain Ricky Ponting could bag an unbeaten 51 out of 107 for one.
Yet it was Strauss who could reflect with great satisfaction on the eventual outcome - and continued optimism for what still lies ahead this winter.
“Everyone talks about how important the first Test is against Australia in Brisbane, so to get through that unscathed from the position we were in is a great effort,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of belief we can go on and win the series from here.”
He knows that plenty more will be needed to retain the urn.
“We’ll have a spring in our step going to Adelaide - but we have to transfer that to the pitch.
“It’s all very well strutting about in the hotel lobby feeling good about yourself. You need to make sure that turns into runs and wickets.”
There was nonetheless much to cheer the vocal English support, especially on the final two days, in Brisbane.
“We did some very good things with the ball - some of our bowlers weren’t rewarded for quite how well they bowled,” Strauss added.
“We were in a pretty dire position after day three, so it speaks volumes for the characters of 'Cooky' and 'Trotty'.”
Strauss saw positive signs in the first innings too.
“The first day of an Ashes series is hard work mentally, and we did well to come back from losing a wicket in the first over.
“Ian Bell played exceptionally well; 'Cooky' played well. But (Peter) Siddle knocked the stuffing out of us with his hat-trick.”
Cook’s best was therefore required, and he delivered in spades.
“I’m not great on cricketing history, but you’d be hard pressed to think of a better innings in Australia,” said his captain.
“It must be a long time ago that a player batted as well as Cooky did. The concentration to see it through for such a long time - it’s one of the really special innings from an England player.”
Strauss was impressed by his team's character after a poor start for the team and him personally when he was out for a third-ball duck on day one.
"Getting out in the first over in the first Test is a pretty horrendous way to start,” he said.
“We felt pretty low then and after day three we felt downbeat as well, we'd done good things and we were behind in the game.
"But we dug pretty deep and we're very happy to be nil-all. Nothing changes and both sides will come out hard in the next Test in Adelaide."
Asked about England's approach to the second innings, Strauss said: "If you just go into your shell and try and survive you play into the opposition's hands.
“If you look for scoring opportunities it creates momentum for you and once we got that momentum it became easier and easier."