Australia have a problem sustaining pressure on opposition batsmen, allrounder Shane Watson admitted Sunday after his side let slip a huge lead against England. Centurions Andrew Strauss (110) and Alastair Cook put on England’s highest ever partnership at Brisbane’s Gabba ground to lead the team out of trouble and overturn a 221-run first innings deficit in the first Ashes Test.
The tourists finished the day on 309 for one, with Cook unbeaten on 132 and Jonathan Trott on 54, to hold an overall lead of 88 runs heading into Monday’s final day. “I think it came down to not sustaining pressure for long enough and we weren’t able to do that for the whole day,” said Watson, one of six bowlers used by skipper Ricky Ponting to seek a breakthrough in the England batting.
“We did it for little periods of time but unfortunately we couldn’t execute for long enough to really build the pressure on them.” Australia came into the fourth day on the back of a record-breaking 307-run partnership between Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin yesterday but were unable to capitalise on their strong position.
“It’s disappointing because of how well Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin batted yesterday to get us into a position but unfortunately it’s something we really haven’t been able to do for a period of time, which is to sustain pressure,” Watson said. “That’s something that we are continuing to work on as a group because we know how important it is on flat wickets and we know there are going to be some flat wickets for the rest of the summer.
Since the retirement of star bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne in 2007, Australia have earned a reputation for being unable to finish teams off, the latest failure coming in the one-wicket defeat to India at Mohali last month.
Australia have lost their last three Tests, something that has not happened for almost 22 years, and have slipped below England to fifth in the world rankings.