'Don't panic England, but learn from lesson South Africa handed out' says Alec Stewart


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The Independent Online

Former England captain Alec Stewart has said that Andrew Strauss's side must not panic in their efforts to recover from their heavy defeat by South Africa in the first Test at The Oval.

England lost the opening encounter of the three-match series by an innings and 12 runs on Monday, but the former wicketkeeper batsman told BBC Sport: "England were on the wrong end of an annihilation, but there is no need to panic yet. Just as if they had won or drawn at The Oval, coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss will review the performance, identifying what they did well, what mistakes were made and what lessons can be learnt.

"England did not make the most of winning the toss," he added. "From being 251 for 2 on the first day, they should have gone on to post a total closer to 450 than they managed. Instead, they collapsed to 385 and were then given a lesson on how to bat on a flat pitch by Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis.

"England's batting also contributed to their own downfall, with very few of the top order placing a high enough value on their wicket. In addition, England only took two wickets and, quite obviously, they need to find a way of taking moreif they are to win the series."

But Stewart steered clear of wholesale changes, saying: "We should not forget that this four-man attack has performed very well for a period of time and should still be shown respect. If Flower and Strauss decide that changes need to be made, it will be because the conditions dictate it and not just because of the performance in the first Test. It should not be overlooked that a big factor in England's climb to the top of the rankings has been the sensible selection policy.

"The defeat by South Africa, though very heavy, was their first at home for two years, so I have very few concerns about this England side."