'We are still striving for consistency', says Strauss
Monday 02 August 2010
Andrew Strauss declined to call for champagne and cigars all round, while Salman Butt stopped well short of burying his head in his hands.
But although both captains kept everything in perspective at Trent Bridge yesterday, the gulf between their two sides looked even bigger than England's 354-run victory margin.
"There are a lot of things to be happy and positive with, and to pat ourselves on the back about, but we are also conscious that our overriding aim is to achieve consistency, and you don't do that in one game," said Strauss.
With back-to-back series victories over Bangladesh, England have now won their last five Test matches. As Strauss pointed out, though, beating one of the minnows of international cricket, home and away, was entirely expected: "I think South Africa [where England clung to a 1-1 draw last winter] showed us that against the best teams in their own conditions we've still got work to do. But Tests like this one give me a lot of heart because of guys getting us out of trouble when we needed them to. You are going to get into trouble at times, and if you want to be a top-quality Test team you need people to do that. That is encouraging, it's just about consistency now."
Despite a glittering, career-best performance from Jimmy Anderson, whose match return of 11 for 71 took his overall Trent Bridge haul to 28 wickets at a shade under 16 runs apiece in four Tests, England did have their sticky moments. Although Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood set up the game with a double hundred stand in the first innings, Matt Prior still had to make it safe by hitting a second-innings century. "We had to work very hard at stages in the game," agreed Strauss. "You don't expect all your batsmen to get big scores on that sort of pitch, but you need guys who get in to go on and get sizeable scores."
England's captain gave "huge credit" to Morgan, Collingwood and Prior for doing the batting business and paid tribute to his team's "outstanding" bowling and "excellent" catching. But the shining star of the show was Anderson – and that came as no surprise to his leader: "I always maintain that when the ball is swinging there is no better bowler in the world than Jimmy. And he was backed up by the other two [Steven Finn and Stuart Broad]. You can always look at these things [Pakistan's short-lived resistance] in two ways. You can say they played poorly or say it was just very good bowling. I prefer to focus on our bowling."
Pakistan had no answer to Anderson, who is now restored to the role of attack leader after a rough time of it in limited-overs cricket. "It's probably not been my greatest summer so far but I always felt I was bowling reasonably well in the one-dayers against Australia and Bangladesh," said the man of the match. "So I wasn't low on confidence. This performance was up there with my best because of the patience I showed in both innings. I didn't try to get greedy or try to bowl the magic ball too much."
A little batting magic would go a long way right now for Pakistan. "We expect better things of ourselves and we need to improve on this," said novice captain Butt. "But it is not only us who have problems against the swinging ball – we bowled Australia out for 88 at Headingley and had we taken our chances here I don't think England would have scored more than 150 or 200."
Butt insists he will back his young side and brushed away suggestions that the old guard batsmen would be recalled in time for Friday's second Test at Edgbaston. Other members of Pakistan's cricket hierarchy clearly have other ideas, however, and last night former captain Mohamed Yousuf was called into the squad along with the young spinner Raza Hassan, who replaces Danish Kaneria.
Trent Bridge Timeline: How day four unfolded
11.00 Imran Farhat clips the first ball of the day off his legs for four. It is not a sign of things to come.
11.30 Farhat, who watched powerlessly as three colleagues fell the previous night, starts the fourth-day rot by edging to slip.
11.42 Beaten and struck in front by a big inswinger, Umar Akmal enlists the support of the decisions review system, to no avail.
11.48 Having resisted heroically and calmly, nighwatchman Mohammad Aamer ends his vigil by driving wide to gully.
11.56 If Pakistan had a review left, Kamran Akmal might have escaped with his wicket. As it is, he has to go and maybe the umpire decides, with some validity, that he deserves to be given out for the cross-batted heave alone.
12.07 Umar Gul struck the two sweetest fours of the innings but, driving with abandon, is expertly held by Paul Collingwood, leaping high at third slip.
12.33 The last specialist batsman, Shoaib Malik, after playing inertly for nearly an hour, nicks one to slip – Anderson has 10 wickets in a Test for the first time.
12.45 The first Test is all over after a morning in which seven wickets have fallen for 65 runs in 25 overs, Mohammad Asif providing England with their fifth slips catch, this one to Graeme Swann.
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