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All to play for - Strauss
Andrew Strauss is able to look forward with optimism to England's last-ditch defence of their world number one Test status at Lord's - despite their frustrating near miss at Headingley.
Bad weather, which wiped 72 overs out of the second Investec Test, prevented the hosts from levelling the three-match series against South Africa before next week's finale. But after Stuart Broad took five for 69 on the last day in Leeds - including four for 12 at one stage - Strauss senses all to play for at HQ.
"Our bowlers have toiled really well, and were maybe a little bit frustrated they weren't getting their just deserts," he said. "But Broady's spell showed there's a crazy session in there for us. If the bowlers keep doing the right things, at some stage they will get their rewards."
England controversially chose to leave specialist off-spinner Graeme Swann out of their Test team for the first time in three and a half years, in favour of an all-pace attack at a venue which often favours seam and swing.
Strauss faced several vexed questions about the future of Kevin Pietersen, after the latter hinted his Test future could be on the line, but the England captain had no such aggravation when it came to the issue of Swann's surprise match off.
"He was fine. He understood the reasons," the 35-year-old said. "I don't think he was all that keen not to be playing. But he's obviously a very good team man, and took it well."
Man-of-the-match Pietersen cannot confirm his Test career will extend beyond this summer, as his wrangles with the England and Wales Cricket Board continue.
There was no question, though, who England would promote to open the innings on Monday when they needed quick runs against a world-class attack.
"We put Kevin up there, after he played so magnificently in the first innings - and he had the opportunity to possibly take the game away from South Africa on his own, in a way that only he is capable of playing," Strauss said.
"Once he got out, the idea was to take stock a little bit but leave ourselves in a situation with 20 overs to go where we could almost view it as a Twenty20 game. But it was certainly a viable chase, I think. We needed a lot of things to go right for us, and unfortunately not enough did."