Strauss tells ~~don~~t panic~~ after fresh ODI loss

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:England stand-in captain Andrew Strauss insisted his side's latest One-day defeat was not a signal for "panic stations" in the run-up to next year's World Cup in the Caribbean.

Sri Lanka's 46-run victory at The Oval, achieved with 20 balls to spare, was England's twelfth defeat in their last 16 One-day internationals and saw them go 2-0 down in the best of five-match series.

All the problems that had plagued England in their series opening loss at Lord's last Saturday - too many extras and wayward deliveries, as well as a lack of top-order runs - were evident again as Sri Lanka, inspired by man-of-the-match Sanath Jayasuriya's 122 and three for 51 left-arm spin return, cruised to victory.

Apart from pace spearhead Stephen Harmison, who took three for 31 from 10 overs, the rest of England's attack had a largely forgettable match.

That was especially true of 24-year-old Lancashire quick Sajid Mahmood, who conceded 80 runs from his seven overs.

Only Bangladesh's Tapash Baisya (87 against England at Trent Bridge last year) and Martin Suji (81 against India at Paarl in 2003) had conceded more runs in a seven-over One-day international final analysis.

"Hopefully these young bowlers will get better every game," said Strauss, leading the side in the absence of Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff, two of six senior players currently unavailable because of injury.

"There's no point hitting panic stations or anything like that."

Turning to Mahmood, left-handed opening batsman Strauss added: "He's realised it was just one of those days where things didn't go right for him. He'll be better for the experience.

"He's a pretty confident guy and he'll come back strong."

England currently appear over-reliant on opener Marcus Trescothick and dashing number four Kevin Pietersen for runs.

In Tuesday's match at The Oval, Trescothick fell for just nine while Pietersen, who blazed his way to 73, was unable to go on to get the kind of individual century which Strauss believes is the key to any One-day international victory.

"It's in the top order where we need those hundreds," said Strauss. "We haven't had a One-day hundred for a while and we need a couple before the end of this series if we want to come back and win it."

England will have to regroup quickly if they are to give Sri Lanka more of a game at the Riverside on Saturday but Strauss, formerly captain of Middlesex, insisted he was not about to read the riot act to his squad.

"We all know we need to improve but, in my experience, you don't get a huge amount from giving people massive bollockings if they are trying their best."

Meanwhile Jayasuriya, 37 later this month, was delighted by the progress a largely youthful Sri Lanka team continued to make after coming back to draw the recent Test series with England 1-1.

"They are doing really well. If we keep playing them and giving them experience, it's good for Sri Lanka cricket."

And Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, who put on 160 for the second-wicket with Jayasuriya, said he felt no less satisfaction from his team's two latest One-day wins because of England's sick list.

"It's easy to give your excuses. We've got a few injury problems of our own as well. We haven't got (batsman) Marvan Atapattu in our ranks and Dilhara Fernando (fast bowler) pulled out (of this match) with an ankle injury.

"We have to play around with what we've got and make sure we get the job done," Jayawardene added.

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