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Erratic England frustrate Strauss

NatWest Series

Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan's fifty was the highlight of a much-improved England batting display

Captain Andrew Strauss praised England’s fine batting display but admitted their other disciplines, in particular fielding, were below par as they slipped to a four-wicket defeat at Trent Bridge.

The hosts posted their highest 50-over total against Australia, 299 all out, but Ricky Ponting’s batting masterclass put his side 5-0 up in the NatWest Series.

Again, only one England batsman reached 50, Eoin Morgan’s 58 occupying just 41 balls.

In contrast, though, Ponting was at his fluent best en route to 126 from 109, while Michael Clarke chipped in with 52.

“There were some bits of today that were encouraging,” Strauss insisted. "I thought our batsmen went out and played with a bolder approach, and that paid dividends.

“Eoin Morgan in particular embodies that. I thought he played exceptionally well. It’s the way he’s played for Middlesex in the past, so that was encouraging.

“I thought we were closer to our potential today as a batting unit.”

Strauss, however, did not shy away from England’s inadequacies in the field as they allowed Australia to steal singles and turn ones into twos.

“The fielding was poor, to be honest,” he admitted. “That’s something there should be no excuse for.

"I do know we work very hard on our fielding, and we fell short of the standards we set ourselves today.”

Ricky Ponting & Andrew Strauss

Ricky Ponting's century - his 27th in ODIs - formed the centrepiece of Australia's efficient pursuit of 300

Strauss also conceded there was little he could do in the face of Ponting’s onslaught as Australia captain’s forged a 133-run partnership with his deputy, Clarke, in 134 balls.

“The bowling could have been better, but Ponting and Clarke in particular played exceptionally well,” he added.

“They put Australia in a position to win, and then at the back end we weren’t able to apply as much pressure as we would have liked - because our fielding let us down.”

With the possibility of whitewashing England in the seven-match series growing increasingly likely, Australia have the chance to earn more revenge for their Ashes defeat.

Ponting played down the significance of that scenario with two games to go – the series resumes in Nottingham tomorrow before finishing at the Riverside on Sunday - saying instead his team are trying to build confidence for the start of the ICC Champions Trophy which gets under way next week.

“I stressed to the boys yesterday the importance of these remaining games heading into the Champions Trophy around the corner,” he said.

“The application today shows that the boys are up for finishing this series well.

“That’s a good sign for us. I hope we'll play well on Thursday and again on Sunday and head to South Africa with a bit of confidence.

“I felt like I played well. It was a really good run-chase and it just goes to show we are heading in the right direction with our one-day cricket heading into the Champions Trophy.”

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