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Nightmare start for new England captain Strauss

Andrew Strauss’s first game in full-time charge of England began in the worst imaginable manner, a shock defeat by West Indies by an innings and 23 runs on Saturday leaving the captain disconsolate.

England’s batting wilted to 51 all out in the Sabina Park heat against outstanding pace bowling from the five-wicket Jerome Taylor, leaving the tourists 1-0 down after the first of four Tests.

”No one wants to lose your first Test in charge in that manner,” said Strauss, who took over when Kevin Pietersen quit as skipper and Peter Moores was sacked as coach.

”I’m pretty disconsolate in that way but I do recognise that out of these tough times good things can happen.

”We have a choice as a group of players to be closer as a result of this or we don’t. I certainly hope it’s the former and not the latter,” Strauss told reporters.

The 31-year-old opening batsman said the dispute involving Pietersen and Moores, which erupted last month, had not been a factor in the defeat.

”I just can’t believe for one moment that in the middle, with Jerome Taylor bowling at you, that you are thinking about anything else,” said Strauss.

”Possibly we didn’t play Taylor in the right way, but more than anything, mentally we weren’t as sharp as we could have been.”

The West Indies gained powerful momentum after Taylor removed Pietersen and Strauss after lunch and the captain said his players had not handled the pressure well.

Early pressure
”We knew we would have to absorb some early pressure, and the spinner [Sulieman Benn] was getting some bounce as well,” said Strauss. ”When you lose two wickets early the pressure builds and we didn’t handle it.

”It’s not unstoppable but the new batsman is under a lot of pressure. It’s not easy and in those circumstances it’s very tough. Good sides get through and we weren’t good enough to do that today [Saturday].

”It’s pretty clear where it went wrong: our batting in the second innings was very poor and there are no excuses.

”Jerome Taylor bowled a fantastic spell but the wicket wasn’t misbehaving terribly, so as a batting unit we need to hold our hands up and say it wasn’t good enough.”

Strauss said the players needed to face up to the failure and fire themselves up to recover in the second Test in Antigua, which starts on Friday.

”We need to use how bad we feel as motivation and move forward.

”[The dressing room] is a pretty disconsolate place at the moment. I don’t think anyone likes to see an England side go down in that fashion.

”The players are all hurting pretty badly but, moving forward, if we can use that as motivation then we’ll come out of it a better side,” added the captain. — Reuters

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