Magnificent Strauss cuts out England middle men
HERO captain Andrew Strauss insisted his England side were still in the hunt for a match-winning total despite missing out on an opportunity to put the Australians to the sword at Lord’s.
The Middlesex opener smashed 22 fours in a magnificent 161no as England ended a rollercoaster opening day of the second Test on 364-6.
But it could have been so much better for the hosts with Strauss putting on a record-breaking opening stand of 196 with fellow left-hander Alastair Cook, who fell just five runs short of a deserved century.
As it was, England were left to rue a series of poor decision-making from the top order as they slumped from 222-1 to the brink of collapse.
But Strauss, who topped 5,000 Test runs in the penultimate over of his full day at the crease, insisted there is plenty more batting left in the tail to post a respectable total.
“It was a little bit frustrating that we couldn’t get one more big partnership,” the captain said afterwards. “That would have taken us to three or four down at the end, and that would have been a good day. From 196 for none I suppose we’d like to be in a better position than we are right now, but we have 360 plus on the board and that’s not a bad place to be.
“We’re still there and we still have batters in Broaders Stuart Broad and Swanny Graeme Swann who are in good form, so there is no reason why we can’t go on and push 450. We’ve got to look at 450. Whenever you’ve got that you’re in decent shape.”
This was Strauss’ 18th Test century and fourth against Australia, but with England chasing a first Ashes victory at Lord’s for 75 years, there was surely none more satisfying.
He and Cook powered through the Aussie seam attack in a blistering morning session, and smashed the record for an opening pair in an Ashes Test until Cook was deceived by the otherwise wayward Mitchell Johnson and caught lbw for a gallant 95.
Ravi Bopara then fell the same way, to a Ben Hilfenhaus inswinger, for 18, sparking a middle order slump with four wickets falling for just 66 runs.
Kevin Pietersen edged a Peter Siddle delivery behind just four overs after tea for 32, before first Test hero Paul Collingwood threw his wicket away, picking out mid-on attempting to slog Michael Clarke.
Andrew Flintoff gave England a boost by passing a late fitness test, but he could only add four more before finding Australia captain Ricky Ponting at second slip from the bowling of Hilfenhaus.
Strauss’ efforts ensured England passed 300 in a Lord’s Ashes Test for the first time since 1975, but he must continue the fight with the tail today after Matt Prior (8) compounded a miserable day for the middle order.
SCORECARD ENGLAND (1ST INNINGS)
A Strauss not out 161
A Cook lbw b Johnson 95
R Bopara lbw b Hilfenhaus 18
K Pietersen c Haddin b Siddle 32
P Collingwood c Siddle b M Clarke 16
M Prior b Johnson 8
A Flintoff c Ponting b Hilfenhaus 4
S Broad not out 7
Extras (6nb 15b 2lb) 23
TOTAL (6 wkts, 90 overs) 364
Fall: 196, 222, 267, 302, 317, 333
Bowling: Hilfenhaus 25-10-77-2, Johnson
19-1-107-2, Siddle 17-1-66-1, Hauritz 8.3-1-26-0
North 16.3-2-59-0, M Clarke 4-0-12-1