Sunday, February 8, 2009



England captain Andrew Strauss offered no excuses as his side was bowled out for 51, their third-lowest in history, on the way to a humiliating innings and 23-run defeat against the West Indies on Saturday.Strauss blamed his batsmen and believes there must be plenty of soul-searching if his side is to avoid another heavy defeat in the four-Test series which continues when the second Test opens on Thursday in Antigua."It's very clear where we went wrong - our batting in the second innings was pretty poor - and there are no excuses for it," Strauss told reporters after man of the match, strike bowler Jerome Taylor plundered 5-11 at Sabina Park."Jerome Taylor had a fantastic spell of bowling, but the pitch was not misbehaving terribly, so as a batting unit we have to hold our hands up and admit that we were not good enough."Strauss believes that each member of the team has to take personal responsibility and try to do better as the West Indies celebrated their first win in 17 matches against England since 2000."I think the reality of the situation is that we worked really hard for the last two days - the bowlers did an exceptional job to keep up in touch in the game - and we got ourselves into a pressure period in the match we did not handle very well," he said."When I started the captaincy I said that we all have to take personal responsibility for our performances. We need to see how bad it feels to lose in that manner and use it as motivation to move forward."

Strauss rejected suggestions that there is still some underlying tension, following the removal of Peter Moores as coach and the resignation of Kevin Pietersen as captain."I just can't believe for one moment that when you are out there in the middle and Jerome Taylor is running in to bowl at you, that you would be thinking about anything that happened before," he said."I think this would be an easy excuse to make, but I do not think it is a relevant one. I think, possibly, we did not play Jerome Taylor in the right way, and it was pretty clear what he was trying to do to us - bowl pretty straight - but mentally we were not as sharp as we should have been.Strauss summed the mood in the England dressing room following the match as "a pretty disconsolate place"."I don't think anyone likes to see an England team go down in that fashion," he said. "The players are all hurting badly, but the reality is moving forward if we can use it as motivation or inspiration to play better and dig deeper, we would have come out of it a better side. If we don't, we won't."I am pretty angry with the way we let ourselves down. The way we batted in our second innings is not good enough for an England team. I think we all accept this."

Strauss does not believe his side underestimated the improvement West Indies have made in recent matches, but their performance has now given England serious food for thought."At the beginning of the series, we said that they have got some world-class players that can perform, and that is exactly what they did," he said."Two of their batsmen got hundreds, and Jerome Taylor is a fine bowler and got five wickets in the second innings, so I do not think we are changing our opinion of them. But certainly if we needed a reminder of how dangerous they are, they just showed us."West Indies captain Chris Gayle hailed the win as a turning point for his side, but he noted that England can be just as inconsistent as his side."England are the sort of team that when they turn up, they can make 500 runs on you easily," he said. "But if you can get the better of them early, a lot of pressure can build on them and you can actually capitalise on it, and get the better of them."

Gayle is one of five members of the West Indies team that were bowled out for 47 here five years ago. Steve Harmison captured seven wickets that day as England clinched a 10-wicket win."Before the Test match, there was plenty of talk about it, and I had mentioned that I hoped it would be the other way around which it has actually turned out to be," said Gayle, a first-innings century-maker."I now plan to go on the Mound (a spectator area at the ground) and celebrate with the fans because five years ago, when I went on the Mound following our defeat, I got into trouble."

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