Yardy boon despite defeat
England's NatWest Series loss to Australia at the Brit Oval helped put ambitions of a 5-0 whitewash into perspective, but captain Andrew Strauss was keen to look for positives and found Michael Yardy.
And if Strauss was looking for a consolation prize aside from the series 3-1 scoreline, a maiden one-day international half-century for Michael Yardy was another of those 'positives' captains always search for in defeat.
Yardy's breakthrough innings never threatened a successful chase of 290 for five, Ryan Harris' 5-32 doing the damage for Australia with the ball after a 99 not out from Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting's 92 had underpinned their batting with a 155-run stand.
Strauss was happy to accentuate the Yardy 'positive’, though, after the Sussex captain had added some runs to the slow left-arm spin which has begun to prove so effective in international cricket.
“He played really well, and has played a lot of innings like that for Sussex - knocking the ball around, accumulating pretty quickly, and clearly we needed him to do that this time,” said the England captain.
“He stepped up to the plate - and on the back of his bowling in the first three games, it was good to see him scoring some runs.
“If you haven’t scored a one-day international fifty before, the first one is very important - regardless of the situation of the game.
“Actually, he got us in a position where - if a few things had gone our way in the back-end of the game - we might have nicked a victory.
“But we needed those things to go our way, and they didn’t.”
If Yardy’s runs were welcome, a few for Kevin Pietersen would be even more so in the final match of the series at Lord's on Saturday.
England's mercurial number three has now failed to pass 50 in 15 successive ODIs since November 2008.
Strauss, however, is not especially concerned.
“He's always frustrated when he doesn't get runs,” he said.
“But he's a world-class player and he will score runs. It's as simple as that, so I haven't got any particular worries on that front.
“I'm sure he'd like to finish this series off in a positive fashion on Saturday.
“He seems in excellent nick, in the nets, his body language, his work rate.”
Regardless of Pietersen's personal fortunes at HQ, England could do with closing the series on a high.
“We wouldn’t want to finish this series 3-2,” added Strauss.
“We’ve played a lot of good cricket so far, so we want one more good performance.
“This performance wasn't good enough, so we need to raise it for Saturday’s game.”