Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

England start badly, career downhill

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straussAndrew Strauss had a bad start to his day when he and his team mates were evacuated from their hotel at 5 o’clock in the morning because of a fire alarm. Unfortunately, that was just the start of a black Friday for the England captain.After days of assessing the fitness of Andrew Flintoff, Strauss and coach Andy Flower finally decided that the inspirational all-rounder could not be risked in a five-day match and it was announced that he was ruled out of the fourth Ashes test.

Strauss took part in a game of soccer on the Headingley outfield and watched in horror as wicketkeeper Matt Prior collapsed with a back spasm before retiring gingerly to the dressing-room for treatment.

Fortunately, Prior made a rapid recovery and Strauss’s day then appeared to take a turn for the better when he won the toss and chose to bat. He strode out confidently with his opening partner Alastair Cook looking to build a huge first-innings total and take charge of the match.

But having survived a huge appeal for lbw off Ben Hilfenhaus’s first delivery of the game, Strauss looked out of sorts and he lasted just 17 balls and three runs before edging Peter Siddle to Marcus North at third slip.

Can England afford to call on fragile Flintoff again?

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cricketIn the end it wasn’t about the two S’s, Swann and swing, it came down to the two P’s, patience and perseverance, as Australia’s batsmen swept away England hopes of a 2-0 Ashes series lead by holding on for a draw at Edgbaston. The challenge for Australia and their batting line-up now is to perform like that in the first innings of a test to put pressure on England, and not just in the second when they need to save a game.

This match didn’t get the denouement it deserved after the thrilling cricket played on Friday and Sunday, but mother nature can hold up her hand and take the blame for that. Just one more day’s play could have provided an intriguing finish, but it wasn’t to be.

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