'It is going to be far tougher with Flintoff against us'

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The acting England captain, Andrew Strauss, last night defended the timing of his declaration, while simultaneously admitting his disappointment at the draw.

"We thought about declaring overnight, but it is very difficult to prise wickets out here. And we felt it was important to be able keep positive field placings in play. We needed to be able to attack the batsmen, especially the Pakistan lower order. It is not part of their natural game plan to sit back, defend and see it out."

There were other reasons (or excuses, depending on your standpoint): a soft ball, an excellent pitch, but there is too, in the English sporting psyche, a deep-seated fear of failure. This has reduced many fine teams - in football, cricket and rugby - to nearly men and under-achievers.

Of course, history plays a part as well. England's caution could probably be put down to what happened in Nagpur in the winter, when for an hour after tea, India's batsmen put the frighteners on them with some rapid runs that threatened to destroy the tourists' attack.

Then there is the Lord's test of 1984, when a previous England captain, David Gower, left West Indies to score an identical 342 for victory. A stunning double hundred by Gordon Greenidge ensured the West Indies won by nine wickets.

Strauss, however, pooh-poohed the notion of history entering the equation. "Previous records are slightly irrelevant, because the nature of the wicket at Lord's has changed quite a lot in the last few years. It doesn't break up as much as it used to."

He was determined, however, to accentuate the positive, claiming that England had played the best cricket and at least he is not handing back the captaincy to Andrew Flintoff with an opening defeat in the series.

The return of Flintoff is certainly occupying everyone's mind. Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach, acknowledged: "It's going to be far tougher in the second Test at Old Trafford with Flintoff in the side. He will be fresh and firing, and it will be a very different England team we face."

While Strauss admitted it would be good to have Flintoff back, he took a positive from the all-rounder's absence: "I think you have to play without him to see what can be done. Of course we want him fit for every match, we are definitely a better team with him in the side, but I think we can achieve great things as a team without him. The raw material is definitely there."

Pakistan had some good news. Their fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, who has had a stress fracture of the ankle, joins up with the party at midday today, and while Woolmer insisted that the Rawalpindi Express will not be ready for Old Trafford, he added: "We would love to think he will be in the side for the third Test at Headingley, but there is still plenty of work for him to do.

"It depends how he comes through the next 10 to 15 days. He has already been running and shadow bowling without any pain so once he arrives he will be bowling off a short run-up, then we will gradually increase that loading. In the end, though, it will be up to him. And he will be dictated by any pain that he feels."

If Shoaib is not ready by then it will no doubt be his team-mates who feel the pain.

Shot of the day

* Mohammad Yousuf failed to match his display in the first innings, where he hit a double century, but he played several classy shots during his knock of 48. The best of these was an extra-cover drive off Liam Plunkett. It went only five yards to the left of Monty Panesar but he had no chance of stopping it.

Ball of the day

* Monty Panesar was England's main threat on the final day. The left-arm spinner bowled many well-flighted deliveries, but the best of them came in his opening over. The ball pitched on middle stump and spun past Faisal Iqbal's outside edge. It did not take a wicket but deliveries like this will in the future.

Moment of the day

* Mohammad Yousuf was not taking the mickey when he hit a Stephen Harmison bouncer while not looking at the ball, but it showed what fine form he is in. Yousuf ducked under the short ball with his bat protruding and the ball hit its middle. He scored 250 runs when he did look and was deservedly man of the match.

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