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Sluggish England failed to capitalise on a turning track

Andy Lloyd
WINNING the toss at The Oval yesterday morning was just the boost England needed for this decisive Ashes Test, but captain Andrew Strauss will be well aware that his side have wasted a fantastic opportunity here.<br /><br />As we&rsquo;ve already seen, the pitch at The Oval is starting to turn, which has completely foxed everybody with neither side opting for the spinning option. So if England had racked up 400 on a pitch which is becoming increasingly difficult to bat on, then Strauss&rsquo; men would be been well and truly in the driving seat.<br /><br />Had England finished the day on 300-5 they would be in a commanding position right now, but I&rsquo;m afraid it&rsquo;s the same old story. Not for the first time, four of the top five batsmen have played themselves in but not gone on to rack up an imposing three-figure score and that has been England&rsquo;s problem for some time.<br /><br />Jonathan Trott, in particular, will be disappointed to be run out when settled on 41 after enjoying a mature knock on his debut.<br /><br />The fact remains, however, England simply haven&rsquo;t got enough runs on the board to push the advantage and unless Stuart Broad can lead the tail with a talismanic innings, then all the pressure will be on the England bowlers today.<br /><br />England, though, do have two big advantages in their favour on a pitch such as this. In Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison and Broad, England have three bowlers well over 6ft 4in tall who can generate uneven bounce, and then there&rsquo;s Graeme Swann, the only recognised spinner on the field who could get success.<br /><br />The pressure is on these guys to deliver today.