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Ashes: Andrew Strauss mulls over Melbourne changes

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Strauss admits poor batting performance

England captain Andrew Strauss has not ruled out making changes to the team for the vital fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne, which starts on Boxing Day.

Ian Bell could move up the order from number six, while the bowling may come under scrutiny after Australia squared the series with a 267-run win in Perth.

Asked about team changes, Strauss said: "I won't rule it out, we have to look on what we can do better.

"But ultimately this is not a time for panic, we have to keep a cool head."

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan, now a BBC Test Match Special summariser, has called for Bell to be rewarded for his impressive form by being promoted up the batting order.

The Warwickshire man has 213 runs in four innings in the series, despite often getting stranded batting with the tail. Meanwhile, Paul Collingwood, who bats one place above Bell at five, has mustered only 62 runs.

England could consider bringing in Middlesex batsman Eoin Morgan for Collingwood, while in the bowling department seamers Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad are waiting in the wings.

If we can keep playing that same brand of cricket we have played in the majority of the series, then we have a great chance of retaining the Ashes

England captain Andrew Strauss

Steven Finn gave up more than five runs an over throughout the match, while spinner Graeme Swann failed to take a wicket in Australia's second innings - and bowled only 25 of the 162 overs England sent down in the match.

Team director Andy Flower echoed his captain's belief that knee-jerk reactions were unnecessary, but admitted elevating Bell would come under consideration.

"He's pushing to get up the order, there's no doubt about that," said Flower. "But we've had six good weeks on tour and I would guard against making snap judgements like that."

England, who came into the match leading the series 1-0 after an innings victory in Adelaide, lost their last five wickets in 50 minutes on Sunday morning as Australia rounded off a comprehensive victory to draw level at 1-1 with two matches to play.

Having bowled the hosts out for 268 on day one, England collapsed from 78-0 to 187 all out in their first innings.

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The Aussies posted 309 all out second time round before dismissing England for 123.

"It's a very disappointing defeat, no doubt about it," said Strauss. "We came fully expecting to play the same brand of cricket that we played in Adelaide.

"We were in a great position after bowling them out for 268 and then being 70-odd for none in reply.

"The batting in both innings was sub-par. But we have to retain a sense of perspective. This result doesn't make us a bad team overnight.

"We need to retain the confidence we built from the first two Tests and come out all guns blazing in Melbourne.

"We've said all along the side that's going to win the series is the one that grabs those crucial sessions by the scruff of the neck.

"We didn't do it in this Test match, we had an opportunity and we didn't do it.

That spell from Mitchell Johnson on the second morning ripped apart our top order

England skipper Andrew Strauss

"Now is not a time for panic. It is important to retain the method that's worked well."

Strauss paid tribute to Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson, whose devastating spell of four wickets for seven runs on day two turned the match on its head.

Johnson, who had been dropped for the Adelaide Test, was named man of the match after taking nine wickets in the match.

"In some ways you have to give Australia credit," Strauss added.

"That spell from Mitchell Johnson on the second morning ripped apart our top order.

"We were always behind in the game after that and credit to them for not letting us back in.

"The batting we have to say was not good enough. We have to learn from that and try and relate back to what we did well in Brisbane and Adelaide.

"If we can keep playing that same brand of cricket we have played in the majority of the series, then we have a great chance of retaining the Ashes."



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see also
England crash to heavy Ashes loss
19 Dec 10 |  England
Injured Ponting targets MCG clash
19 Dec 10 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
19 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Third Ashes Test in photos
19 Dec 10 |  England
Sunday's Ashes gossip column
19 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Vaughan calls for Bell promotion
18 Dec 10 |  England
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket


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