It's honours even but England have very little to fear

Andy Lloyd
<div>WHILE the losses of Matt Prior and Andrew Flintoff late last night were a blow, it should not detract from what was an encouraging day&rsquo;s cricket for England.<br /><br />Yes, the untimely wickets may have proved the difference between England&rsquo;s opening day and honours even, but captain Andrew Strauss and his top order will be spurred on by the way they handled the Australian bowling attack, especially after starting so slowly.<br /><br />In Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle, the Aussies went for the seam trio which did so much damage in South Africa recently, and despite failing to completely dominate the tourists&rsquo; attack, England will know there is precious little to fear.<br /><br />Strauss struck the first blow by winning the toss. Batting first was a no-brainer, especially for England in the knowledge they have two spinners in Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar who can do a lot of damage on the final two days should this wicket start to rough up, as expected.<br /><br />On winning the toss, Strauss would have targeted 400 for this pitch and with Swann and Stuart Broad still to bat, that is still very possible.<br /><br />But the England captain will be disappointed that none of his top order were able to go on to score a hundred after each one of them played themselves in nicely.<br /><br />Johnson was pretty ineffective to be honest, although his bouncer to dismiss Strauss and slower ball to remove Ravi Bopara were his best balls of the day. Indeed, most of England&rsquo;s wickets came as a result of good deliveries, although Kevin Pietersen will probably be the most disappointed, top-edging a dolly to short leg on a Nathan Hauritz ball he really should have left.<br /><br />On the other hand, England&rsquo;s bowlers, the likes of Jimmy Anderson, Flintoff and Broad will be encouraged by how the wicket treated the Australian seamers and all eyes will be on them today as they look to tip the balance in England&rsquo;s favour.</div>