Strauss cautious despite victory
England captain Andrew Strauss admitted his side were “nowhere near” producing the level of consistency he is demanding of them despite winning the final match of the NatWest Series against Australia.
England avoided a 7-0 whitewash after they claimed a four-wicket win at the Riverside, with the victory built on Graeme Swann’s 5-28 as Australia were bowled out for just 176 in 45.5 overs.
While Strauss (47) and his opening partner Joe Denly (53) put on 106 for the first wicket, England made hard work of the chase before eventually surpassing the Australian total six wickets down.
Strauss admitted that claiming back the Ashes was the summer’s prime objective, but he said the 6-1 one-day defeat left them with plenty to ponder.
“This has served as a timely reminder that as a side, we are nowhere near where we want to be, either in Test cricket or one-day cricket,” Strauss said.
“It brings your feet back down to earth, that's for sure. In international cricket, you have always got to keep looking forward, you can't bask in anything you have done previously anyway.
“We are still going to hold on to that Ashes victory because it was very special and if you don’t get excited about those victories, then you are not going to get excited about anything.
“We can be proud of ourselves the way we played in the Ashes, and as a Test side, we have got a lot of the component parts in place; as a one-day side, it's clear we have got some work to do still.”
Strauss admitted his relief at England breaking their series duck today, and hopes it will give them some much-needed confidence with their first match of the ICC Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka is just five days away.
“It was a good bowling performance today. Graeme Swann produced a fantastic spell of spin bowling, mixing it up and giving it a rip.
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting admitted he was disappointed not to claim a whitewash, but believes his side are perfectly prepared for the Champions Trophy.
“It was disappointing to lose today, but we fought the game out exceptionally well,” he said.
“Swann’s spell was probably the difference in the game. We were probably all a little bit surprised at how much it span for him today.
“The last few weeks have been terrific for us. For someone like Cameron White to be the man of the series is a terrific effort for a young player.
“(Tim) Paine has been terrific for us as well, so all in all, we can go to South Africa really happy with what we have achieved here and with a bit of confidence behind us.”
Today’s match was the last of a long tour for Ponting and his side after they arrived in England back in May, and despite that Ashes loss the skipper reflected on it as one of his most enjoyable.
“This has been if not the most enjoyable then one of the most enjoyable tours I’ve been on – and we lost the (Test) series as well,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed it from the start until the last ball was bowled today.
“I enjoyed the contest that was on the field with England through the Ashes series and I’ve enjoyed the games I’ve played here through the one-dayers. I’ve enjoyed it immensely.”
He added: “It’s a great country to play cricket in, there’s other things you can go out and do outside of the cricket time as well around England which adds a little bit to the tour.”
Ponting top-scored for Australia with 53, the 68th ODI half-century of a decorated career that earned a further honour yesterday when he surpassed former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq’s 11,739 one-day runs to become the third-highest runscorer in the 50-over game.
“I didn’t know that (he went passed Inzamam). Who am I chasing now?” said Ponting who now only trails Sachin Tendulkar (16, 895 runs) and Sanath Jayasuriya (13,343) in the list, albeit by some margin.
“It’d be nice if those two blokes retired. I didn’t know that but I guess it’s a nice thing to have behind you.
“Hopefully I have a few more runs to make in the next few weeks (at the Champions Trophy).
“It’s when the big games come around that the big players like me need to stand up.
"I was really disappointed at the stage of the game I got out today so hopefully next week if I get off to a good start and get 50 then I need to go on and make a big score.”