Strauss happy to avoid double defeat
England captain Andrew Strauss was a relieved man after his team narrowly avoided adding cricket disappointment to the footballers’ World Cup exit.
England were cruising to a NatWest Series-clinching victory over Australia at Old Trafford yesterday soon after their winter game counterparts had lost 4-1 to Germany in Bloemfontein.
But once Strauss was out for 87 with seven overs to go, his team imploded to lose six wickets for 18 runs in pursuit of 212 all out.
It was Tim Bresnan’s late hitting which finally got them over the line with just one wicket and five balls to spare, allowing Strauss to reflect after all on wrapping up the series via a 3-0 lead with two matches still to play.
Strauss described the last 10 overs as “horrendous”, but - unlike Steven Gerrard and Co - could at least reflect on a day that had after all turned out fine in the end.
“Clearly the football result was a bit of a downer for everyone,” he said.
Lancashire were unable to arrange a big-screen transmission of the football match, therefore leaving a capacity 22,000 crowd with the option of leaving to watch it elsewhere or sticking with the cricket.
Most stayed, and were rewarded with some fine batting from Strauss in half-century stands with Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Eoin Morgan - after Graeme Swann and James Anderson had shared seven Australian wickets.
That is not to mention the sweaty finish, Australia fast bowlers Shaun Tait and Doug Bollinger ending up with three wickets each.
“Fair play to the crowd - they kept supporting - and even while the (football) match was still going on, there was an excellent atmosphere in the ground,” added Strauss.
“From our point of view, it was a great day.”
Strauss reported the World Cup clash had little impact on him personally.
But it did throw up a bizarre moment when, as Pietersen dragged himself from the crease following a Tait return catch, sudden incongruous shrieks of delight erupted all round - because England had just scored their solitary goal in Bloemfontein.
“That was a bit odd,” he agreed. “But I didn’t think about it a huge amount. You just heard the odd sigh, odd groan - and the very odd cheer.
“When the full-time score came up and was shown on the board, that was quite deflating.”
The worst, and best, was yet to come for Strauss - who could at least be satisfied his team were not responsible for delivering a double dose of depression for English sports followers.
“They wouldn’t have been more disappointed than we would have felt,” he said.
“We certainly wouldn’t have wanted to lose a match in those circumstances.”
That was not the case, leaving the captain to reflect on the reasons for England’s successful run.
“The bowling unit has been outstanding in all three matches, leaving us with pretty modest scores to chase.
“We’ve got a nice little formula that is working well at the moment.”