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West Indies v England 4th Test



Andrew Strauss
Strauss is bidding to avoid defeat in his first series as captain

Captain Andrew Strauss defended his bowlers after England were forced to bat out day five to draw the fourth Test against West Indies in Barbados.

The tourists posted 600-6 declared in the first innings but their four-man bowling attack toiled on days three and four as West Indies replied with 749-9.

"I struggle to blame my bowlers on this wicket, they tried hard," said Strauss.

"Hopefully there will be more life in the wicket in Trinidad and we can take our chances and take 20 wickets."

England, who trail 1-0 heading into the final Test at the Queen's Park Oval, have yet to take 20 wickets in a match all series and have only done so once in their last 10 Tests against all opposition.

Many questioned their decision to drop Steve Harmison for the fourth Test and name Ryan Sidebottom, who appeared short of match fitness, in a four-man attack, which included off-spinner Graeme Swann.

"The way the bowlers stuck at their task was impressive," added Strauss. "I can't fault their effort in any way, shape or form.

"It's a big learning curve for bowlers to bowl on these sort of wickets and invent ways of taking wickets. I think generally we were quite inventive and we might have to be on pitches like this in the future."

Strauss was keen to pay tribute to Alastair Cook, who recorded his eighth Test century and first since December 2007 to secure the draw.

The 24-year-old also became the youngest Englishman to pass 3,000 Test runs but it was his unbeaten knock of 139, coming 28 innings after his last ton, that was of greater importance to England.

"Not getting a hundred was a bit of a monkey on his back," said Strauss. "To get that is pretty reassuring and might free him up. We could see him get a few in a row."

Cook, who had made 11 fifties but no centuries since doing so against Sri Lanka in Galle 14 months ago, will now go to Trinidad full of confidence.

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"It's been a while and I can sleep well tonight," he said. "I was nervous at about 50 but in the 90s Kevin (Pietersen, who made 72 not out in a 150-run stand with Cook) kept telling me to play straight and I got there.

"I can't put a finger on why I haven't been doing it, it becomes a bit of a mental thing, but it's gone now so the monkey's off my back.

"Hopefully I'll go to Trinidad and get another one. The pitch was nice and flat. The new ball was tough but when you get through that it's a belting pitch to bat on.

"The aim for every batsman is to set up winning totals. I'd love to do that and hopefully I will in Trinidad."

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see also
Cook ton helps England earn draw
02 Mar 09 |  England
Gayle praises Windies centurions
02 Mar 09 |  England
Windies unchanged for fifth Test
02 Mar 09 |  West Indies
Jonathan Agnew column
02 Mar 09 |  England
West Indies v England photos
02 Mar 09 |  Cricket
England on top after Strauss ton
26 Feb 09 |  England
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England


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