Strauss cannot fault England bowlers
Andrew Strauss paid tribute to a ‘near-perfect’ bowling performance in the wake of England’s 196-run victory over India in the historic 2,000th Test.
James Anderson was the star on the final day, claiming 5-65 including the wickets of India’s vaunted middle-order trio of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar.
His effort told only half the story, though, with the remainder of England’s bowling quartet – Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann – also chipping in to great effect as the tourists were dismissed for 261.
That earned them lofty praise from skipper Strauss, who said: “It was great bowling from us.
“Over the two innings, it was as close to the perfect bowling performance as we have had over the last two years. And that is saying a lot because we have bowled well quite consistently over that period of time.
“I think we earned the right to take the wickets we did and that’s all we can hope for as a bowling unit.”
Broad, in particular, shone in this encounter despite many suggesting his place in the side was under threat going into the match.
The seamer was England’s star performer in the first innings with 4-37 and, after chipping in with a priceless unbeaten 74 yesterday, he claimed a further three scalps second time round.
Strauss took particular pleasure from that performance, saying: “It was an outstanding effort.
“When your place in the side is called into question, it is a big test of character as much as anything and he showed immense character for five days.
“He bowled very well in the second innings and his 74 was crucial to the outcome of the encounter. He really showed his class and provided a timely reminder of what a great talent he is.”
Despite Broad’s all-round efforts, Kevin Pietersen earned the man-of-the-match award for his sensational 202 not out. That led England to a first-innings total of 474 for eight declared and ultimately proved the difference between the sides.
That was certainly the view of Strauss, who ranks the knock among the best he has seen during his time in the international arena.
“The first-innings total was a magnificent performance,” he added. “And Kevin was mainly responsible for that. That was one of the great innings I have seen since being involved with the side.
“It was played in very difficult circumstances and he had to be smart in the way he played their seamers.
“He had to graft and when he had the opportunity, he attacked which meant that other people could bat round him. It was a magnificent performance from him.”
India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was left rueing the loss of chief destroyer Zaheer Khan, who picked up an injury on the first day and, subsequently, could not bowl again.
“It became quite tough for us to manage the bowlers after losing Zaheer in the first session of the first day,” he said.
“That left us with three bowlers – two fast and one spinner – and we knew it wouldn’t turn much for the first three days. That meant we did not have too many options and were quite limited in terms of resources.”
Dhoni is unsure whether he will have his premier strike bowler back for the second Test at Trent Bridge, which begins on Friday.
He added: “We have three days to prepare and I am not 100 per cent certain whether he will play or not. We will see.
“It’s a long series and we don’t really want to risk any individuals. If we feel that he is close to 80 or 90 per cent and playing will not worsen the injury, we will make a call to play someone like Zaheer.
“But, with the kind of cricket we are playing, it is very important to get the guys fit and not risk them for one particular game.”