ENGLAND remain wary of their Ashes opponents in tomorrow’s second Test, even though Australia appear to have blinked first by dropping Mitchell Johnson.
Andrew Strauss, who had some minor ’firefighting’ to do today after Kevin Pietersen’s latest foray on Twitter, warns England must not start to under-estimate the opposition just because Australia have made a key personnel change after one match.
Johnson’s figures of none for 170 in the high-scoring stalemate at the Gabba convinced Australia’s selectors he needs a break, and his place seems set to be taken by fellow left-arm pace bowler Doug Bollinger.
Strauss’ settled team may conceivably show a change itself, although it is a long shot that Ajmal Shahzad could replace Steven Finn - who took six first-innings wickets in Brisbane.
Should that happen, it will be no knee-jerk reaction to a poor performance - the way some are portraying Australia’s decision.
Strauss said: ``My experience, in playing international cricket, is that lack of stability is not a good thing - when you’re not sure what your best XI is.
``That means people are generally a bit concerned about their place in the side.
``In that sense, that’s a good thing for us.”
Even so, he has no doubt whoever faces England at the Adelaide Oval will be a worthy opponent.
``I think we’ve got to be just slightly wary of the guys they’ve got in their squad.
``They’re good performers, who’ve had a lot of success in Test cricket. We’ve got to be good enough to contend with them.”
On the home front, Strauss again found himself questioned on the subject of Twitter - this time after Pietersen yesterday voiced his frustration at outdoor net practice being rained off, blaming groundsman Damian Hough for not covering the pitches quickly enough.
It was not an especially diplomatic move from Pietersen - who has previous for inappropriate tweeting and was fined for announcing, in coarse terms, to thousands of his followers that he had been dropped for last summer’s NatWest Series.
England have guidelines for acceptable tweeting.
Asked whether Pietersen crossed the boundary with his latest apparent faux pas, Strauss said: ``No, he didn’t.
``But obviously there are degrees of everything, and we don’t want anything that distracts our attention from what’s important - which is getting on the cricket pitch and performing.
``I don’t think he realised when he put it on there. I think he was just frustrated.
``But the groundsman and authorities at Adelaide have looked after us exceptionally well. We’ve got no qualms with them whatsoever.”
England were back outside this lunchtime, albeit on a couple of lively surfaces.
Strauss added: ``It was just one of those situations where it was raining, and they had to get the covers on.
``It’s not something I was particularly concerned about.
``I think Kevin was just frustrated because he wanted to have a long bat yesterday and he wasn’t able to do that.
``He vents a bit of frustration. It’s not something that we want to get dragged into too much.
``We have a set of guidelines for our players - and we fully expect them to adhere to those guidelines as much as possible.”
Strauss himself does not use Twitter but said: ``Everyone’s different, and a lot of the guys really enjoy it.
``It is a good way of broadening the appeal of the game.
``It allows players to be in contact with people that support the game.
``There are some real benefits to it, but it has to be used responsibly. By and large, it has been. We need to make sure we don’t have any more incidents of the likes of what we’ve seen previously.”
Strauss has more serious matters to occupy his mind, predominantly how to follow up an honourable draw with a victory.
``We haven’t achieved anything in this series yet,” he said.
``If we do want to achieve something we’ve got to steel ourselves for another very tough five days of cricket.”
He does not expect his team to bear any scars from the demoralising defeat England suffered in their last Test on this ground, on the way to their 5-0 humbling in the 2006/07 Ashes.
Six players survive in the current line-up, including five specialist batsmen,.
Strauss acknowledges it was tough to take at the time, but doubts there is any lasting relevance.
``What it proved to us is that anything is possible in the game of cricket,” he added.
``Australia sniffed a chance of victory and took it. We kind of conspired in our own downfall.
``You need to learn from those sorts of experiences, and I think we have.
``To expect the match to go in a similar way this time would be wrong.
``It is a very different set of players - and once you’ve been through that, you’ll be making sure you don’t get into that situation again.
``It was a long time ago. It was obviously a bit of a kick in the teeth at the time, but a lot of things have moved on since then.”