Strauss: It's crunch time

Wed, 01 Aug 14:22:15 2012

Andrew Strauss admits it is "do-or-die" time for England as they attempt to cling on to their number one place in the Test rankings this week.

An innings-and-12-run defeat to South Africa at the Kia Oval last week has put the pressure on and defeat in the next Test, which gets under way at Headingley on Thursday, would see Strauss' side concede top spot to the Proteas. But Strauss is hopeful they can put their dismal performance last time out behind them and level the series.

"Being around the guys in the practice days, it's pretty clear that everyone's got their heads on and they're determined to come out firing in this game and try and put South Africa under pressure," he told Sky Sports News.

"We're quietly confident, we can't afford to make any mistakes now - it's do-or-die time. But that sort of pressure can be a good thing as well. We're excited about this week and I'm certainly very confident our guys will come out and play well."

England have shown over the years they are capable of bouncing back from heavy defeats by going on to emerge victorious in the next match and Strauss did not want to dwell on their collective failure at the Oval, adding simply he hoped the lessons from the loss have been learned.

"It was important we put the Oval game to bed which we did and now it is just about looking forward," he said. "There is no point in looking back too much in professional sport and certainly the most important thing is we learn the lessons from last week but also realise that this is going to be a different game of cricket in different conditions.

"We need to get our heads around the challenges that we're going to have to overcome this week. We had a good chat about that. Now, it's just a case of going out and delivering."

There have been some suggestions that England will alter their bowling line-up, with Steven Finn and Graham Onions waiting in the wings. Ravi Bopara's absence has ensured there will at least be one change to the team that started last week, with James Taylor in pole position to claim England's much-maligned number six role.

"We've got options," Strauss said. "It's quite an interesting looking wicket at the moment so it's definitely one of those we'll have to see in the morning before deciding which way we're going to go but all 13 in our squad have got a chance of playing."


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