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Gooch defends star duo

England batting coach confident over for of Strauss and Pietersen

Strauss: Barren spell

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England batting coach Graham Gooch has dismissed suggestions that Andrew Strauss is struggling and is also confident Kevin Pietersen will rediscover his form.

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Skipper Strauss extended his poor recent run with the bat when a beautiful inswinger from Mohammad Asif dismissed him for 13 on a rain-shortened first day of the fourth Test against Pakistan at Lord's.

The opener has now scored only 155 runs in his last seven innings, with an unbeaten 53 at Edgbaston his best effort of the current series.

Some have also criticised Strauss for his captaincy in a series that Pakistan seemed completely out of after the second Test but can still draw. Gooch has no such concerns.

"I haven't seen anything get to him. I think he's captained the side really well," he said.

"With every batsman, if you don't score runs, you can't be completely happy.

Platform

"That's not just him personally, that's anyone - because that's your role in the side, to provide the platform for your bowlers to win the game.

"But the Pakistan attack are decent. They get something out of the pitch, and it's a challenge - that's for sure."

Gooch also backed Strauss to get back in the runs soon, insisting that the left-hander is not suffering through a bad spell of form.

The former England captain added: "He is not out of form. What happened here today and at The Oval ... I've been there ... you are vulnerable if you get a good ball and your judgement is not spot on.

"In the last two Tests, he's been out too early to say his game is not working. But confidence only comes from spending time at the crease."

Meanwhile, Pietersen is yet to bat at Lord's but has admitted to being concerned over his lack of big scores in recent months.

Practice

The 30-year-old has not had the chance to improve his game at county level after announcing his exit from Hampshire but Gooch has been impressed with what he has seen in the nets.

Gooch added: "He's got to transfer the way he prepares and practises into the middle.

"Obviously he's desperate to make a score, like any player. But you've got to get the balance between attack and defence, what I call how you manage the batting.

"You get confidence from scoring runs in the middle. That is an important part of feeling good as a player.

"But the modern itinerary of international cricket doesn't quite allow the number of games that it did in the past.

"Kevin's situation with Hampshire is between him and them. But ideally, you'd like to be playing some sort of cricket at some stage - because you need that rhythm."