Strauss bemoans injury luck
Captain Andrew Strauss admitted England’s injury crisis had left him a bowler short as Australia completed their highest-ever run chase to win the sixth one-day international in Sydney by two wickets.
Jonathan Trott hit a career-best 137, from 126 balls, to play the lead role in stifling heat as England cast their recent batting woes aside to post 333 for six.
But it was not enough as a depleted bowling line-up allowed Australia, led by 82 from under-fire acting captain Michael Clarke, to run down their record chase with four balls to spare.
It was a morale-sapping defeat for England made worse by a back injury to Paul Collingwood, suffered attempting to heave the final ball of the innings, which left him unable to bowl.
With Collingwood already filling an unfamiliar fifth bowler’s role due to England’s injury problems, it was left to Trott and Kevin Pietersen – who also briefly left the field after rolling his ankle – to make up the lost 10 overs.
It proved costly as they conceded 72 runs between them to help Australia maintain their blazing start, after opener Shane Watson hit 51 from 34 balls, and eventually claim a record victory.
“At the moment, we are a bit short on bowlers full stop,” said Strauss, after news during the game that quicks Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring) and Chris Tremlett (side) were set to fly home tomorrow due to injury.
They join Graeme Swann (back/knee) and Tim Bresnan (calf) in leaving the tour early, and Strauss added: “We have been forced into (playing a bowler light) right at the moment.
“It’s not ideal. I need five bowlers, there is no doubt. Ideally you will have six bowlers at your disposal; five specialists and a Collingwood-type bowler. “
Strauss is likely to have more options when the World Cup start later this month, however, with all of his bowlers due to be fit in time for the February 22 opener against Holland.
“We are going to have to decide what the best way of winning games out on the sub-continent is,” he added. “The likelihood is there are going to be two spinners involved and that allows you to play with six bowlers.”
Strauss had blamed the batsmen after they conceded the series with a 51-run reverse in Brisbane, but, after Trott anchored a cohesive performance, he was left to lament another defeat which leaves England 5-1 behind heading to the series finale in Perth on Sunday.
“It’s very frustrating because it was a top-notch batting performance all-round,” Strauss said. “For Trotty to bat through the innings in that sort of heat was an outstanding performance, it was a monumental innings. He deserved to be on the winning side.
“We weren’t helped with Paul Collingwood not being able to bowl his 10 overs, but, ultimately, we allowed them to get off to far too fast a start with the new ball.
“They got too much impetus at the start of the innings. It’s a bitter pill to swallow no doubt, although we can take some positives out of it, but we didn’t get the win we should have got.”
Strauss also revealed that Collingwood’s injury could rule him out of the final match in Perth.
“He had a back spasm so he couldn’t walk very well and he certainly couldn’t bowl,” he added. “Back spasms can take a day or they can take four or five days, we really don’t know at this stage.”
Trott’s century was his second of the series and fourth of a rich tour Down Under.
The right-hander may not have been regarded as an automatic selection in England’s one-day team before the series, but, after his recent performances, is set to head into the World Cup as the in-form batsman.
“I don’t think it’s about proving anyone wrong, it’s about proving to yourself more than anything,” said Trott, who was forced to call for a runner soon after bringing up his milestone after he started to cramp in the heat.
“I’ve always felt I can contribute towards the team in one-day cricket and all forms of the game.
“It’s nice to be able to do it but it feels better when you are winning games. I would have definitely swapped today’s innings for a win tonight, but unfortunately it wasn’t the case.
“We felt pretty confident at half time – the score we put up was pretty good but it just wasn’t enough.”