Cricket Expert & Columnist
The Ashes 2013: England batted slowly but effectively at The Oval
England batted very slowly but very effectively on day three of the fifth Ashes Test, says Nasser Hussain.
Last Updated: 23/08/13 8:01pm
The hosts - who lead the series 3-0 - scored just 215 runs from the 98.3 overs bowled at The Oval on Friday as they fought to 247-4 at the close, with Ian Bell unbeaten on 29 and debutant Chris Woakes remaining not out on 15.
Hussain believes England had to battle hard as they pursued Australia's first innings total of 492-9 declared and thinks head coach Andy Flower will be delighted with his batsmen after they reached stumps 245 runs adrift of their opponents.
"It didn't make for great entertainment for the guys paying 100 quid for their tickets but it was a day that will please the coach," the former England captain told Sky Sports Ashes during his end-of-day analysis.
"The batsmen had to work hard for their runs on a slightly slow pitch and against bowlers who have bowled brilliantly at them, so England have done well and Flower will be proud of them.
"They could have got themselves into trouble showing oomph on a pitch like that and could have ended up 250-7.
"They need to get as close to Australia as they can, no matter how long it takes, and fight hard to make sure Australia don't win a Test match."
England skipper Alastair Cook scored 766 runs in the 2010/11 Ashes Down Under at an average of 127.66, but has toiled this summer, failing to make a century and registering a top score of 62.
The Essex man notched 25 at The Oval before being caught behind off Ryan Harris and while Hussain reckons the left-hander could return to form in Australia this winter, he says he has plenty to ponder.
"Cook is struggling," said Hussain. "He has got three fifties in the series but Australia have worked out how to bowl at him and stuck to their plan.
"Harris, in particular, has got the ball going across him and he is not quite transferring his weight back into the drive, so he has to work on that with [England batting coach] Graham Gooch before the return Ashes.
"It will be slightly easier in Australia as the ball comes onto the bat more and he has good memories, but he is not striking it as well as he would like."
On Kevin Pietersen, who played placidly before being ousted by Mitchell Starc for a 133-ball 50, Hussain added: "He was very restrained and sensible and will be disappointed he is not there overnight as he could have done some damage.
"We were all expecting the pretty-boy middle-order of Pietersen and Ian Bell to push on and up the scoring rate, but when they struggled that said something about the pitch."