Tait was the difference - Strauss
England captain Andrew Strauss believes Australia bowler Shaun Tait was the difference between the two sides in the final game of the NatWest Series.
Tait pushed the 100mph speed barrier as he led the tourists to a face-saving 42-run victory at Lord`s.
And Strauss, who was the first of Tait's four wickets, admits the 27-year-old's spell was among the fastest he has faced during his six years in international cricket.
“He was pretty quick today and he got the ball swinging a bit as well, which makes it harder,” he said.
“He had a big impact on the result of the game, taking early wickets and putting us on the back foot early on.
“It would certainly be up there with spells I’ve faced from Shoaib Akhtar and (Brett) Lee.
“The ball that got me out was a good ball, top of off-stump, swinging back a bit, but you always feel you could have counter-acted it better when you get out.”
The result was meaningless in the context of the five-match series as England had aleady wrapped up the win after three games.
And Strauss was quick to praise his players, despite his disappointment at the last two games which Australia have won comfortably.
“We are disappointed we lost the last two, because we were in a good position to really assert some supremacy over Australia,” he said.
“We weren’t able to do that. But we won the series, and that’s something the guys should be very proud of.
“Beating the number-one team in the world in a five-match series is a great achievement, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that.”
Australia looked set to fall short of setting a testing target when they stumbled to 106 for three in almost 30 overs.
But Mike Hussey and Shaun Marsh then batted exceptionally in posting half-centuries and Strauss was happy to admit his admiration for their performaces.
“They came at us with powerplay overs,” he added. “Well played Mike Hussey and Shaun Marsh. They got some momentum very early in the powerplay, and then it is always hard to stop that.
“Those last 10 or 11 overs were a big momentum swing. We’d done a really good restricting job up to the 39th over; then they managed to wrestle that momentum away from us.”
England batsman Eoin Morgan took the player of series award, largely based on his form in the early matches which saw him score a century in the first game at the Rose Bowl.
He said of that match-winning hundred: “It’s one of the best times I’ve ever performed on a cricket field.”
Morgan turned his focus towards establishing himself as a Test player and facing the same opposition during the Ashes in the winter.
“It’s a massive aspiration of mine. Playing against Australia is always a privilege, they are very competitive,” he added on Sky Sports 1.
The Ashes is the aspiration for many players now and Australia captain Ricky Ponting refused to rule out the possibility of trying to lure Tait out of Test match retirement.
“I’d consider it - and I certainly would,” Ponting admitted. “But I was waiting to see how he came through these games.
“There are very few blokes in the world who can do what Shaun can, and I think he showed today - even at very good top-order batsmen like Strauss - that he can bowl a ball that can get anyone out.
“He has the ability to do that with the red ball as well. Ultimately it’s up to him, but I know he wants to play a lot more cricket for Australia - and if he has that desire and bowls as he has done here he’ll be difficult to leave out.”