Belfast Telegraph

Shocked birthday boy Strauss leads praise for Kevin O'Brien

By Ian Callender

Beaten captain Andrew Strauss — who was supposed to be ‘celebrating’ his 34th birthday yesterday — admitted that Ireland's successful run chase had come as a shock but described Kevin O’Brien's innings of 113 as “outstanding”.

“He rescued them from a pretty perilous position to one where they were up with the rate and they just needed to keep their heads in the end,” said Strauss — who, coincidentally, was out for 34.

“It was a bit of a shock to us and I’m bitterly disappointed because we did a lot of things badly in the field again. We should have taken our catches.

“I dropped one (when O'Brien was 91) and we dropped three others as well. That cost us the game, there’s no doubt about it.

“Our bowling could have been better. We got taken by surprise there and we can’t afford to give away those kinds of chances here.

“They are very flat wickets and we were asking for trouble. I thought we were in a great position to win the game.

“We knew they had some dangerous hitters in the back end of their order but with the rate climbing as much as it was it seemed, if we could stay patient, we would pick up wickets.

“But Kevin O’Brien played an outstanding innings.”

Even at halfway, after England had posted 328, Strauss thought Ireland were in with half a chance.

“We chased down a similar score against India”, he added.

“But I backed our bowlers and fielders to put on a display that would be too tough to chase down.

“We did not do that and only have ourselves to blame. But you have to give credit to O'Brien and the whole Ireland side for the way they chased that down.

“They have a pretty experienced side and have done it before in World Cups and they will continue to run the major nations pretty close in this competition.”

Asked how big a setback this will be for him, personally, as he tries to follow England's Ashes success this winter with World Cup glory too, Strauss said: “I don't tend to rank my lowest moments — it's not something I have a habit of doing — but it's been a bitterly disappointing day for us.”

England tied another memorable high-scoring match at this same venue with tournament co-hosts India three days ago — and Strauss is not about to give up on his team at this stage.

“We were thinking we were getting some momentum after the India game,” he admitted.

Belfast Telegraph

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