Strauss calls for response
Captain Andrew Strauss has warned England to learn from their mistakes as they attempt to bounce back from their heavy defeat to Australia and win the Ashes at the Brit Oval later this month.
Strauss watched his England side slump to an innings-and-80-run loss at Headingley Carnegie today to leave the sides level at 1-1 going into the npower series finale on August 20.
But before England can begin plotting whether they can bounce back to win at the Brit Oval, where they reclaimed the Ashes four years ago, Strauss believes they must first learn from the mistakes at Headingley after they were dismissed for 102 on the first day.
Pressed on England’s poor performance, Strauss admitted: "It's hard to put my finger on it. The reality of the situation was that first session was an awful session and from there on it was always very hard to get back into the game.
"As a group of 11 players we have to stand up and take it on the chin and say that was far below the level where we think we should be playing at.
"We need to learn lessons from it and make sure we don't make those mistakes again. We've had a lot of circumstances in the past when we've come back well after poor performances and we've got to do that again next week.
"If you look at our batting performances over the past nine Tests or so they've been pretty good. You don't want to be in a situation where you ever get bowled out for 51 or 100 and, to be honest, that is an issue.
""From my point of view I don't think we reacted quickly enough to the conditions or situation or the way the Australians bowled. As a batting unit we need to take that on the chin, ask ourselves were we switched on properly and if we weren't what was the reason for that?
"Those are the sort of calm reflections that we need to make over the coming days before turning our attentions to the Oval Test match and reminding ourselves that it's still 1-1 in the series going into that final Test match."
Strauss refused to use the chaotic scenes before the start of the Test, when all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was ruled out with knee problems and wicketkeeper Matt Prior had to pass a late fitness test after suffering a back spasm, as an excuse for the dismal display.
He also believes England need to look at their selection calmly and not make any knee-jerk reactions to their heavy defeat, stressing: "Everyone is capable of getting out and making mistakes, that's the game of cricket for you.
"If you're thinking about wholesale changes I would be very resistant to that, but at the same time we have to make a judgement call about the best 11 players to win that last game.
"We have to find out the fitness of Freddie and where he is at and then obviously the balance of the side is an issue as well. Those are all issues that we have to throw into the melting pot and make sure we're clear on which direction we need to go in come that final Test match."
England are also monitoring the fitness of swing bowler James Anderson, who suffered a hamstring problem during the defeat, while Strauss has shrugged off criticism of his team from former Australia opener Justin Langer in a dossier to help the tourists prepare for this series.
Langer has accused England players of being shallow and questioned the character of some of their squad, but Strauss said: "If you look at the cricket we've played over the last nine months or so, I would contest that and that's certainly something we don't want to see in the England team.
"If that's something that's happened in the past, that's something we're determined to iron out. There's a lot of strength of character in the side and we're going to need it next week."
Delighted Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes the dossier may have helped the more inexperienced members of their tour party, who have not played against England before.
"I'll admit I got given a copy of it and had a brief read through it all, but I knew most of it anyway," said Ponting. "It was probably more for the younger guys in our group to have a good feel about some of their players.
"I'm sure they all read every single word that was in the document but we haven't sat down in meetings after that and talked about that - we've been searching and trying to find ways within our own group to play our best cricket.
"I feel the last couple of days of Test cricket here have been the best that we've played this series and given ourselves a blueprint of what we need to do in the next Test."
Ponting, whose side now face a two-day match against England Lions at Canterbury this weekend, added: "It's just amazing how quickly things can change in this game.
"It was only at Lord's a couple of weeks ago that no one thought we had any chance at all of being able to bounce back in this series and here we are now sitting back with everybody doubting everything that England's been doing.
"We've been in total control this week which is something I'm proud of but we've got to make sure we carry that over into next week."