x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

England enjoy chance to be on front foot

The momentum is with them going to Adelaide and the captain Andrew Strauss stays focused while pointing to previous great escapes for inspiration for second Test.

Andrew Strauss, centre, the England captain, and teammates Jonathan Trott, left, and Matt Prior, right, the wicketkeeper, had plenty to be happy about after the first Test in Brisbane ended in a draw.
Andrew Strauss, centre, the England captain, and teammates Jonathan Trott, left, and Matt Prior, right, the wicketkeeper, had plenty to be happy about after the first Test in Brisbane ended in a draw.

SYDNEY // An air of assured confidence has often been the hallmark of recent Ashes series, though more often than not it has been the Australians who have gone into the second Test of the series with the full of confidence after a win in the first match.

After England posted 517 for one in their second innings to salvage an unlikely draw - but ostensibly a moral victory - at The Gabba, it is the visitors who will enter the second match at the traditionally batter-friendly Adelaide Oval with the momentum.

Andrew Strauss, however, has stuck to his mantra of managing expectations and is keen to ensure his players do not get too far ahead of themselves.

"There'll be a spring in our step going to Adelaide but you've got to transfer that to the pitch," the England captain said. "It's all very well strutting around the hotel but you've got to make sure that turns into runs and wickets.

"This time we came out with a good solid draw in the end. None of it counts for anything unless we take advantage of it in Adelaide."

Strauss, who scored a second innings century after a first innings duck, was particularly pleased his top order batsmen had tortured the Australian bowlers for two days in Brisbane, particularly as the middle and lower order had got them out of precarious positions in recent Test matches.

In Cardiff in the opening match of the last Ashes series, bowlers James Anderson and Monty Panesar defied the Australian attack to save the Test, surviving for the final 37 minutes of the match, while in Cape Town earlier this year Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell combined with a stand of 112 runs that lasted 57.3 overs to thwart South Africa's victory push.

"Cardiff, definitely, we used our get out of jail card," Strauss said of the match that ultimately helped set up their Ashes winning series.

"There was more drama in Cardiff and Cape Town but from where we were on day three, this is a better performance.

"In all of them we had to show a lot of resilience. In those other Test matches it was the lower and the middle order that got us out of trouble. This time it was the top order.

"The more of those sort of performances we get from one to 11 in the team, the more confidence it gives you to do it again."

Meanwhile, Andy Flower, the England coach, says cricket must rely on television replays rather than an honesty system to judge suspect catches.

In advocating the use of video evidence for making decisions on catches, Flower put himself at odds with Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, who said the use of flawed technology to decide borderline catches was "a blight on the game".

Ponting was reacting to the decision to refer to the television umpire his claimed catch off Alastair Cook on the final day of the Brisbane Test.

Television replays were inconclusive and Cook, then 209, was reprieved and went on to make 235 not out before England declared their innings.