Cricket Expert & Columnist
Ashes 2013/14: England's failings can't be wholly blamed on batting coach Gooch
Experienced campaigners are ultimately responsible for their success - and shortcomings...
Last Updated: 04/01/14 10:26am
The tourists capitulated to 23-5 on day two of the fifth Test before Ben Stokes (47) dragged the total up to 155 - the fifth time England have failed to pass 200 in this Ashes and their second-lowest total in the series, only bettering the 136 they slumped to in the first innings in Brisbane.
Australia improved their 171-run lead to 311 by stumps, reaching 140-4 in their second innings with Chris Rogers scoring an unbeaten 73.
Gooch's position has come increasingly under the microscope with each England failure but fellow former skipper Strauss told Sky Sports: "You've got to be careful not to hold him wholly responsible.
"You don't see him raising his bat when Kevin Pietersen scores a hundred, therefore you can't criticise him too much when Pietersen gets a low score.
"He is obviously doing lots of work in the nets with the players but he's not seeing any results from that. I still think that players are ultimately responsible for their own games. The coach is there just to aid and help in any way that he can."
England resumed on 8-1 but were quickly in the mire as skipper Alastair Cook offered no shot to the second delivery of the day from Ryan Harris, who went on to find the edge of Kevin Pietersen's bat. When Ian Bell (two off 32 balls) snicked Peter Siddle behind, the tourists were 23-5.
Both Cook (26.55) and Bell (27.37) are averaging less than 30 in the series following their cheap dismissals, while Pietersen (32) is a fraction over, with none of the batsmen scoring a century between them in nine innings each.
"It has been another dreadful day for England, to be honest, in the face of brilliant bowling from Johnson and Harris in particular," reflected Strauss.
"The England top-order - the experienced campaigners - Bell, Cook and Pietersen were obliterated in the morning session. Johnson and Harris set the tone and it was really good bowling on a wicket that was helpful for the Australian bowlers.
"They bowled better lines and better lengths than the England bowlers. Pietersen looked to be aggressive and positive but it didn't work for him. It just looked like the England batsmen were a little bit scrambled.
"This all goes back to the first and second Tests and the continued excellence of the Australian bowling attack."
The only bright spots on another dire day for the tourists came from Gary Balance, who struck a hard-fought 18 on debut, and Stokes - who Strauss says is growing in confidence.
"When you are in this situation when you're team is 4-0 down, it's very hard to divorce yourself from the situation," he said.
"I think Stokes has gained confidence with both the bat and the ball from what he's been doing with the other.
"That six-wicket haul allowed him to come out and play with more freedom with the bat; he's the only England batsman who has played with any sort of freedom.
"He's got a very simple technique. He looks to hit the ball and use his bat; he's been good against the short ball and I think he's played Mitchell Johnson really well. He's ducked under the short ball and taken it on at times.
"He's always looking to drive down the ground. A lot of England batsmen have got stuck in the back of the crease whereas Stokes is the one guy who is going forward at the ball at the moment."
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Watch highlights of today's play from 9am on Sky Sports 3 and On Demand from 6.30pm. The Ashes Verdict is back at 9pm on Sky Sports 2 ahead of The Ashes Extra at 10.30pm, with live coverage of D3 from 11pm.