Patience key for Strauss

England must tame the MCG hordes tomorrow, and then prepare for a patience test in pursuit of the Ashes.

Andrew Strauss has told his team they cannot afford to be overwhelmed by the once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing in front of almost 100,000 people.



But with the series tied at 1-1 with two to play, he has also identified a patience game as the way to succeed at a venue where seam and swing can hold sway and there are pitfalls for batsmen who try to attack too early.



Similarly, rewards are likely to come to bowlers who stay calm and do not start banging the ball in halfway down the wicket.



James Anderson appears sure to be leading England's attack, having been declared "100% fit" by Strauss, following a niggle in his side - while Australia captain Ricky Ponting is confident he too will be able to lead his country after recovering sufficiently from a broken left little finger.



Whoever takes part, though, Strauss is convinced the main requirement is to avoid being sucked into too much adventure because of the inevitable noise and the size of the occasion.



Asked what he sees as the key quality at a ground where he made a first-innings 50 four years ago, the England captain replied: "Patience - which can be quite hard when there's a big crowd here and you've got a bit of adrenaline going through your blood.



"To remain patient and calm is quite tough."



England will be well aware, after their dour draw in a tour match against Victoria here two weeks ago, that flashy players will have to rein themselves in.



"A lot of patience is needed. Sometimes it can be pretty tough to score here," Strauss added.



"You've got to be prepared to suck it in a little bit, absorb some pressure for a while and then hope to come out the other side as a batting unit.



"The general consensus at the MCG is if you go too hard at it too early you're going to be back in the hut."



In case England needed any reminder of the partisan element in an expected 90,000-plus crowd, Ponting provided it this morning by agreeing the tourists may be intimidated by the occasion.



"I'm sure he does," Strauss countered.



"But I don't think we will, no.



"One of the things that's important is that you're ready for it, and not surprised by it.



"That's one of the messages we've been trying to get across - 'be prepared for it; it's going to be quite a big spectacle, and it's out of the ordinary'.



"We don't usually play in front of that number of people."



Anderson's fitness allows more leeway for England to rest leading wicket-taker Steven Finn, and Strauss' long answer to whether that may happen was confirmation enough that selection for this pivotal match is far from straightforward.



"The key before every Test match is to try to get the balance of attack that you think is most likely to work on any given wicket," he began.



"We've had to think long and hard about that.



"Finny's done some really good things on this tour, and taken quite a few wickets."



Finn took five wickets but went at more than five runs per over in England's 267-run third-Test defeat at the WACA.



"He was probably a bit expensive in Perth, if we're honest," said Strauss.



"But he's young and he's learning, and I think he's going to keep getting better.



"We want to really make up for our performance in Perth. I'm very confident we'll do that."



Ponting was forceful in his response when asked if England may be intimidated - although he did give the travelling support a mention too.



"There'll probably be 20 or 30 thousand 'Barmy Army' supporters here but I'd like to think this venue's probably one venue where they might get drowned out a little bit," he said.



"No doubt we'll get great support. There might be even the odd 'boo' come towards the England players this week, not just me all the time. "



Ponting will take the precaution of fielding away from his usual position in the slips to try to keep his finger out of the firing line.



He acknowledges too that England's bowlers may be detailed to test out his injury with some short balls - but warns that may not be the right line of attack here.



"Maybe they will. They probably will, but it mightn't be that sort of wicket," he said.



"It might be a wicket where you need to pitch the ball up a little bit more.



"It's supposed to be pretty overcast - I'd expect the ball to seam around a little bit and swing around a bit. I'll be prepared from whatever comes my way."



He knows he will need to be - especially if he happened to be listening when Strauss delivered a curt response to the suggestion England may take note of 'goodwill to all men' when they decide where to pitch the ball to the Australian captain. "It's not Christmas tomorrow," he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot