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Rediff.com  » Sports » Strauss gets another bitter pill to swallow

Strauss gets another bitter pill to swallow

February 20, 2009 11:01 IST

England captain Andrew Strauss, in charge of his first tour, is learning the lessons of captaincy the hard way after suffering two hard-to-take results against West Indies in his opening Tests.

After an innings and 23 run defeat in the first Test in Kingston, when his team collapsed to 51 all out, came a 10-ball abandoned match at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, followed by a bitterly disappointing draw in the hastily arranged third Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

England had the upper hand for all five days of an enthralling Test match, Strauss's 169 helping them to 566 for nine declared in their first innings. They sat in command after setting West Indies a near impossible target of 503 to win.

But in four-and-a-half sessions of bowling, England could only get nine West Indian wickets as the last pair of Fidel Edwards and Daren Powell hung on for 10 agonising overs.

"Clearly when you get so close in a Test and you don't make it over that final hurdle it is very hard to take," said Strauss.

"In some ways it does feel like a defeat, but once the emotion subsides and we realise there's a lot of positives to come out of the Test.

"The way we batted after Jamaica was the way to respond, the way Graeme Swann bowled was exceptional and Stuart Broad as well bowled very well.

"Hopefully we have shifted the momentum away from West Indies and if we can get better as the tour goes on there's no reason why we can't win the series."

"Test wins don't come easily, especially on a wicket like this even against numbers 10 and 11 it's hard to force the issue.

"I can't fault the bowlers, they did as well as they could in those conditions. It was just one of those things, it wasn't meant to be," he added.

Critics might point to Strauss's decision not to enforce the follow-on or his sending in James Anderson as a night watchman at the end of the third day, which slowed down England on the morning of the next session.

But the England skipper was also restricted by Andrew Flintoff's hip injury and Steve Harmison's stomach upset.

"We had a few problems, Harmison was on his death bed with a towel over his and there was Freddie's injury. Graeme Swann woke up on the fourth day with an elbow he thought might stop him bowling at all.

"Plenty of problems to ponder and it meant the bowlers we did have had as much rest as possible. I certainly have no regrets about not enforcing," he said.

"We hoped the wicket would deteriorate on day five but it didn't really, if anything it died a little and got flatter.

"The efforts of the bowlers were exceptional. We did everything we could do. Sometimes a ball goes to hand and sometimes it doesn't, it's those small margins between winning and drawing a test match".

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