Andrew Strauss has acknowledged England need to learn their lessons quickly after sliding to a humbling innings-and-12-runs defeat against South Africa at The Oval.
England, resuming on 102 for four, were always going to be up against it yesterday and although Ian Bell dug in with a battling 55 from 220 balls, he found scant support as Strauss’s side were all out for 240.
Much of the damage had been done over the last three days, with Hashim Amla striking a brilliant triple century as South Africa compiled 637 for two.
After being comprehensively outplayed for four of the five days, Strauss hailed South Africa and revealed there is a lot of frustration in the England dressing room, but insists they must bounce back.
“I don’t think shocked is the right word,” Strauss told Sky Sports 1. “After day one, South Africa played some outstanding cricket and earned the right to get on top if and didn’t allow us to get back into the game.
“You’ve got to give them a huge amount of credit for the way they played, certainly their batsmen.
“The concentration they showed was outstanding, both Amla and [Jacques] Kallis – and [Graeme]Smith actually.
“We’ll have some regrets. We got ourselves a nice little foundation on day one and we weren’t able to go and get on our own big score, and losing four wickets last night [Sunday] put us under a lot of pressure today.
“Lot of frustration but there are lessons to be learnt and we’ll learn them before next week.”
Strauss added: “I think the odds were always going to be against us having lost four last night, if we’d have lost two then maybe it would have been a different story.
“The wicket was still pretty flat today but I suppose we were a bit frustrated that we didn’t make it harder work for them in those conditions.
“But all credit to them, they came and they bowled hard, they got the ball reversing a little bit and they made life hard for us.”
The left-handed opener refused to blame his bowlers, with South Africa and Amla effortlessly piling on the runs, while Smith and Kallis also registered centuries.
And Strauss has backed his attack to shine in the next Test at Headingley in Leeds, starting on August 2.
“I think we’ve got an outstanding bowling attack,” he said. “I think you’ve got to give them credit for the way they batted but I’d still back our bowling attack to take 20 wickets on most wickets – not this one unfortunately. Those guys will be determined to show more of themselves in the next Test match and I’m sure they will do.”
Amla was named man of the match after becoming the first South African to make a Test treble century with his unbeaten 311 in his side’s mammoth first innings total. The 29 year old was delighted with his efforts but was keen to hail the contributions of Smith and Kallis as well praising the Proteas’ bowling attack.
He said: “I’m obviously very excited and grateful for the opportunity to be able to contribute and get a big score like that, but you can never do it alone and fortunately Graeme and Jacques were with me to guide me along, so it was a lovely experience for myself.”
He added of veteran all-rounder Kallis: “Everybody has taken a lot from Jacques. Obviously he’s a very experienced guy, so we’ve taken a lot from him. And credit to our bowlers in this particular match, the wicket was good to bat on and they did a fantastic job for us.”
Dale Steyn took five for 56 and Imran Tahir claimed three for 63 as England slumped from 203 for five to 240 all out during the afternoon session yesterday.
Smith was overjoyed after leading his side to victory in what was his 100th Test match as the Proteas took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, which will determine the ICC’s No 1 Test team.
“It’s certainly an extremely proud moment for all of us to have achieved a Test victory in the first Test of what is a big series and play as well as we have,” Smith said.
“In the context of the first innings to come back and win the game is an incredible achievement.
“I don’t think we were that terrible on day one when we lacked a little bit of that X factor but we found that on day two. The conditions on that morning suited us but we found an intensity that we lacked a little bit on day one.
“We got a couple of plans right on day two and all credit to our bowlers, they set the tone for us in this Test and managed to finish it off on a really good batting wicket.”
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