England efficiency delights Strauss
Captain Andrew Strauss hailed a “clinical” England performance as Australia were comprehensively put to the sword on the final day of the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.
Having dismissed the hosts for 245 in the first innings and then romping to 620 for five declared in reply, England remained brutal in the attack today as they claimed the six wickets they required to dismiss the hosts for 304 before lunch.
Victory by an innings and 71 runs was a reflection of their dominance, with off-spinner Graeme Swann the pick of the attack after three wickets gave him second-innings figures of 5-91 from 41.1 overs.
England lead the best-of-five series 1-0 heading into the third Test in Perth, which starts on December 16.
“We were pretty clinical in everything we did in this game,” Strauss said. “Bowling them out for 245 on the first day was an outstanding effort, and then we didn’t let them back into the game.
“A lot of boxes were ticked in this game and we’re pretty happy with our performance.
“We’re always conscious that if you start patting yourself on the back too much in cricket it comes back to haunt you, but we’re going to enjoy tonight - we deserved the victory - but that Perth Test match is even more important now.”
Strauss added: “When you’re confident things start happening for you as a matter of course. You don’t have to force the issue too much.”
Kevin Pietersen’s 227 was the cornerstone of England’s only innings with the bat, and Strauss felt it was a performance that had been coming after Pietersen’s poor run of form.
“He’s been threatening to play like that for a while, certainly all through the warm-up games,” said Strauss.
“There just looked to be a bit of a swagger about him and he was seeing the ball well and early.
“It’s great for us, because when he is on song he dominates bowling attacks, and not many players can do that.”
Pietersen, whose man of the match award also took into account his removal of Michael Clarke with the final ball yesterday, warned England not to get carried away by this victory.
“Australia are a formidable team here in Australia and we’re only 1-0 up in the series and there are still three Tests to play - anything can happen in those three Tests,” he said.
“Australia are going to get better and we’re going to have to play better cricket going into Perth and Melbourne and Sydney.
“Normally an England team doesn’t finish off a series too well, so we’ve got to make sure we’ve got out heads on.”
Australia resumed today on 238 for four, needing a further 137 to make England bat again, but with the hope of more bad weather coming to their rescue.
But England raced through the Australia tail within an hour and a half - thanks initially to pace rather than the anticipated spin.
Strauss took the second new ball after 83 overs, and Steven Finn needed just eight deliveries with it to have Mike Hussey, pulling, caught at midwicket for 52.
“It was a dream session,” said Swann, who followed up James Anderson’s dismissal of Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris with successive deliveries by running through the tail.
“To get Hussey early on is exactly what we were looking for. Good old Finny came to the party, and when that ball went in the air I don’t think there were 10 more excited players.
“To get him out, it started the procession. As the fielding side that was just what the doctor ordered. You don’t want an hour and a half without any wickets and then looking over your shoulder and seeing the clouds building up.”
Swann reckons England are reaping the benefits of not making many mistakes with the bat, ball and in the field.
“We’re certainly playing well,” he added. “It’s been 18-24 months of solid cricket from us. We’re not doing anything special; we’re just not doing anything wrong.”
Australia captain Ponting admitted his side’s “shambolic” start to the game had given them too much to do over the remainder of the match.
“We got off to a shambolic start, losing those two wickets in the first over and then three wickets in the third over,” he said, referring to Australia’s slide to two for three after winning the toss.
“It was a very good wicket and we knew that. We had to make sure that we made a big total in the first innings; 245 was never going to be enough.
“This is a bad loss for us, particularly after winning the toss here. We have a got a lot of work to do and we’ve got some soul-searching to do as individual players.”