Strauss remains calm in defeat
England captain Andrew Strauss insisted his side will not panic after Pakistan won the first Test in Dubai by 10 wickets.
England suffered their maiden Test loss since at Perth in December 2010 to go 1-0 down in this three-game rubber, which resumes in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Strauss’ team could manage only 160 in their second innings, but the skipper believes it was Pakistan reducing them to 43 for five in their first knock of 192 that did the damage.
“We’re disappointed in the way we played,” said Strauss, who oversaw an impressive bowling display in which Pakistan nevertheless did credit to a reliable pitch and made 338.
“Losing five wickets in that first session put us on the back foot when we shouldn’t have lost five wickets, to be honest with you, and then we’re always behind in the game.
“Plenty of things to ponder. We’re obviously disappointed. But we’re not going to push the panic button by any means. We need to come back strong and show our character and resilience in the second game.”
Saeed Ajmal proved England’s undoing on the first day, taking a career-best 7-55 and leaving Strauss’s side in a position from which they did not recover.
“We got caught off guard a little bit in that first session,” Strauss continued. “All credit to Pakistan; I thought they played exceptionally well and once they got ahead of us in the game they didn’t allow us back in.
“I thought our bowlers did a pretty good job but obviously in both innings our batsmen should have done better. We need to learn the lessons. We won’t be panicking; we’ll come back strong in the second Test match.”
“I think our preparation’s been pretty good,” he said. “We played some good cricket in the warm-up games. We just didn’t react well enough to the conditions here.
“It wasn’t turning a mile and to lose wickets early against the spinners put the new batsmen under pressure and we all know pressure can build wickets as well. We should have been better. We’re not going to make any excuses but we’re not going to panic either.”
Strauss knew it is he and his fellow England batsmen that must improve ahead of the second Test.
“I wouldn’t fault what the bowlers did,” he added. “I thought they did exceptionally well, to bowl Pakistan out for 330-odd on that surface I thought was a good effort. That’s not really where we're focussing our attention at the moment.
“The most important thing is that we get big runs on the board and I thought that it was probably a pretty good toss to win. Looking at the end there, it was getting a bit up and down but we obviously needed to get 300 or 400 in the first innings.”
On a blameless surface, Strauss admitted England’s specialist batsmen conceded their wickets too easily.
“When a guy’s just come in, having played a bad shot, you don’t expect your team-mates to be jumping up and down telling you what a terrible shot you’ve just played. But what is important is you don’t run away from facts, and the truth,” he said.
“As individual batsmen, we’ve got to be honest and say ’Did we play well enough, was our gameplan smart enough, were we switched on enough?’”
Dealing with Ajmal’s ability to turn the ball both ways is something England need to work on.
“With a bowler like that, the first 12 or 18 balls you face are when you are at your most vulnerable,” Strauss added.
“The key for the batsmen is not to give their wickets away - which is probably what we did a little bit too much in this Test match.
“The fact that a couple of us contributed to our own downfall allowed him to put even more pressure on the batsmen coming in.”
One unfortunate dismissal was Strauss’ this morning when he was given out caught behind down leg despite his review showing no contact with bat or glove.
“It was of little consequence in the outcome of the game,” he admitted. “I personally believe that the DRS system means that there are fewer errors made. But there’s going to be no system in place where every decision is 100% right. That’s a fact of life, and you deal with it.”
“That’s a good template to use,” Strauss concluded. “We treated it as an aberration in Perth, and it would be right for us to treat this as an aberration as well - as long as we make sure we don’t repeat those mistakes.”