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Winning but without style not on

cricket Updated: Aug 25, 2013 00:22 IST

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England may have sewn up a comprehensive Ashes series victory over a largely sputtering Australia, but their go-slow tactics in the final Test at the Oval has left them fending off an avalanche of criticism for playing boring cricket instead of finishing in a flourish.

The hosts made sure they gave Australia no hope for victory on the third day, scoring a mere 215 in 98 overs on Friday at 2.19 runs per over. With the return series looming, the last thing England would want is to give their enemies any hope of a turnaround.

With former players rounding on the team, young batsman Joe Root laid the blame on a 'doctored' Oval pitch.

The talented player, who scored 68 as England killed off the Test even before Saturday's play was washed out, said the pitch was too slow and made it hard for batsmen to time their shots. He pointed out that even the in-form Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen found it hard to score freely.

Indirect admission
But Root indirectly admitted what England's tactics were when he said a team, though aware that fans have shelled out lot of money to buy tickets and expect entertaining cricket, will still have to play according to the situation.

But England have also been panned for skipper Alastair Cook's defensive tactics when the hosts bowled. In fact, batting great Geoff Boycott has urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to take stronger action against teams that maintain slow over-rates.

It is mandatory for teams to bowl 15 overs an hour. They can be fined for slower over rates and repeat offences can lead to a ban for the captain. Boycott has said the ICC rarely clamped down on slow over-rates and most leading teams were serial offenders when it suited them.

Umpires to blame
He blamed the umpires for not tackling the situation, especially when England bowled a meagre five overs in half an hour as Australia closed in on their declaration.

He was joined by another former England batsman, Mark Butcher, who felt the tactics have only boosted Australia when it should have been England celebrating their 3-0 lead. Butcher said the approach revealed England's mindset going into the Test.

Slamming England for failing to leave Australia in a state of disarray, Butcher said England instead has let all-rounder Shane Watson and Steve Smith to find excellent form with centuries, thus failing to expose captain Michael Clarke's lack of form.