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Andrew Strauss
Cricket Expert & Columnist

Ashes 2013/14: England's bowlers prove tourists' pride is still intact

Cook's players want to prove to people that they can do better after losing Ashes...

Australia v England - 4th Test, Day Two

England's bowlers proved they still have some fight left after suffocating Australia's batsmen on day two of the fourth Ashes Test, says Andrew Strauss.

England stuck to their plan

The tourists seized the initiative - and a 91-run lead - in Melbourne by reducing Australia to 164-9 before stumps in reply to their first innings total of 255.

Senior seamers James Anderson (3-50) and Stuart Broad (3-30) led the way after Mitchell Johnson (5-63) had bagged another five-wicket haul for the hosts and Strauss told Sky Sports he was pleased to see England put in a spirited performance.

"It would have been great if England had had a day like this at the start of the Brisbane Test but it's just good to see them showing some fight.

"I think all of us were a bit worried that mentally they might find it hard to keep going with the series over before this Test, so it's good to see the bowlers do their job.

Pride

"It was quite a turgid affair but the bowlers kept running in. Tim Bresnan did a good job in particular and they showed that there is still a lot of pride there and they want to prove to people that they are better than what they've shown so far in this series.

"England's bowlers have been able to exact the sort of pressure that Australia's bowlers have been doing all series - they've been able to suffocate the Australian batsmen. They haven't found a way to get away, which has been different.

"I think we were all a little bit surprised that it happened that way. When England lost their last four wickets so quickly this morning I think we all felt 'here we go again - it's going to be the same old story' but it hasn't turned out that way.

"At the moment they have a really useful 91-run lead. If you look at the scoring rate in the game, that equates to 40-odd overs of batting for Australia to make that up.

"But Brad Haddin could hit 30 or 40 runs very quickly in the morning, so England must either starve him of the strike or get him out early and then bat patiently, occupy the crease and bat time."

Encouraged

Anderson, the leader of England's attack, went into the fourth Test having taken just seven wickets in three defeats.

But Strauss explained that the Lancashire seamer - and his fellow bowlers - looked far more at home on a MCG pitch offering assistance.

Australia's worst day of the series

"There was just a little bit of movement all day long for the England bowlers and it certainly kept them interested. They got Australia two-down early and then Michael Clarke left a straight one.

"Anderson would have been encouraged by the nibble in the wicket; it looks like a bit more of an English-type of wicket.

"Up until now he has nothing to work with - no swing or nibble and he's had David Warner coming at him all guns blazing so it has been quite a tough, chastening time for Anderson.

"Ben Stokes has been an attacking threat - we saw him get Michael Clarke out in Perth - but he's also kept things tight so for a young fourth seamer he's doing all of the right things.

"When you've got 500 on the board or a big lead in the second innings you can afford to play some shots. Australia have played it well - they've bullied England up until now - but this is the first time we've seen them under real pressure and there are some weaknesses.

He added: "England are in a brilliant position at the moment because scoring generally becomes more difficult in Melbourne in the fourth innings.

"It's just good to see smiles on the England faces; they've had such a bad time of it on the tour so they really enjoyed the day."

Watch highlights of today's play from 4pm, then join us for The Ashes Verdict from 9pm, The Ashes Extra at 10.30pm and coverage of day three from 11pm - all on Sky Sports 2.