Strauss shows ruthless streak

Captain Andrew Strauss showed a more ruthless edge in his on-field behaviour as England earned a Champions Trophy semi-final spot with the best batting display in his memory.

Even the spat with opposite number Graeme Smith, who he denied a runner later in South Africa's failed chase of 324, could not take the gloss off the 22-run win.



Despite being thrashed 6-1 in the NatWest Series by Australia earlier this month, England have now won their last three matches inside a week and their misfiring batsmen have clicked.



Man of the match Owais Shah, who struck 98, and Eoin Morgan hit 11 of the England record 12 sixes in an impressive 323 for eight, their sixth-biggest score in 50 over cricket.



"One of the things we have tried to do here is go out and try to show people what we can do rather than die wondering and that is what has come out in both games we've played," said Strauss, whose team top Group B.



"That batting performance was the best I can ever remember from England."



However, a little over 48 hours after reprieving Sri Lanka batsman Angelo Mathews, following a collision in a run out, Strauss denied centurion Smith a runner in the day-nighter at Centurion.



South Africa required 69 runs from the final six overs with five wickets in hand when Smith's request - with AB de Villiers striding to the middle - was turned down by Strauss and umpires Steve Davis and Tony Hill.



"He asked me for a runner because he was cramping, the umpires were not particularly keen to give him one, and I felt at the end of a long game when you have had a long innings you are going to be tired," said Strauss.



"That is one of the things that happens and cramping to a certain extent is a preparation thing and to a certain extent a conditioning thing.



"I didn't feel he merited having a runner at that stage.



"My personal view is you shouldn't get a runner for cramps full stop."



However, Smith, who smashed a career-best 141 before holing out in the 47th over, was left angered by Strauss' decision, just a month shy of England's tour here.



"From my perspective it seemed a little bit inconsistent," said Smith.



"Players have got runners for cramp in the past and there needs to be a level of consistency there.



"The thing I have learned from this game is that the world is round and it is going to come back somewhere in his captaincy.



"It will be interesting to see how he handles it, if it happens again. It was a crucial part of the game, I had been on the field for 95 overs."



The hosts were therefore eliminated from yet another global tournament when well fancied to do well.



"It's disappointing to play a knock like that and not get over the line," said Smith.



"We wanted to leave ourselves 85-90 off the last 10 with the powerplay included and we were close to that."



The turning point arguably came from the very next ball after Strauss denied Smith his request when stop-gap wicketkeeper Morgan ran out Albie Morkel.



The only blights on the day for England were five per cent match fee fines for the players for a slow over rate - Strauss received 10% as captain - and illness to Matt Prior, which jeopardises his chances of facing New Zealand tomorrow.



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