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Strauss demands aggression

NatWest Series

Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss goes to his fifty but admitted he should have gone well beyond 63 given the fine form he is in

Captain Andrew Strauss has urged England’s batsmen to stand up and be counted during the remainder of the NatWest Series against Australia.

The hosts’ top order faltered for the third consecutive match in last night’s six-wicket defeat at the Rose Bowl, a result which leaves them requiring victory in the remaining four games to win the rubber.

Unlikely as this is, particularly with Australia captain Ricky Ponting due to return for the fourth one-day international at Lord’s on Saturday, England can take heart from a similar turnaround in their previous one-day series involving Australia.

Following Australia’s 2006-07 Ashes whitewash, England lost six of their first seven games in the triangular Commonwealth Bank Series, also featuring New Zealand. However, they won their last two round-robin matches to reach the best-of-three final where they defeated Australia 2-0.

Rather than dwelling on former glories, however, Strauss yesterday chose to focus on the future. That sees England travel to South Africa later this month for the Champions Trophy and return there in November for their main winter tour.

By that time, premier batsman Kevin Pietersen is expected to be fit following his Achilles injury that required surgery after the second Ashes Test.

And Strauss used the prospect of Pietersen, who was ruled out of that Commonwealth Bank Series after the first match, returning to the line-up to spur competition for places among the top order.

“We’ve got to be honest with ourselves and have a look at it, in terms of how we can improve,” admitted the skipper, who was England’s top-scorer with 63.

Mike Hussey, Callum Ferguson & Andrew Strauss

Strauss looks on as Mike Hussey and Callum Ferguson savour victory, Australia'a third in succession under Michael Clarke

“One-day cricket, you can’t go into your shell and grind it out. You’ve got to play with enough confidence to put a competitive score on the board, but at the same time make good decisions.

"You still have to go out and play your shots - that’s what this game’s all about.

“The absence of Kevin Pietersen, a world-class player, has left a hole to be filled, but other guys getting a chance now and it’s important that as a group they make up for the loss of him not being here.

“People need to take their opportunity, and we haven’t done that well enough so far.”

Australia again showed England how to construct a one-day innings, Cameron White leading the way with his maiden ODI hundred and stand-in captain Michael Clarke chipping in with 52.

The pair judged the run-chase immaculately, adding 143 for the third wicket in 30 overs, but Clarke admitted a target of 250 would have been tough to reach on a slow surface.

“If they had scored 20 runs more I think that would have been a pretty tricky target to chase down on that pitch,” he said, reminding England’s batsmen of their responsibility in the remainder of the series.

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