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England players in shock after test defeat

Written by: Staff
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ADELAIDE, Dec 5 (Reuters) England's players were in shock after losing the second Ashes test TOday to hand Australia a 2-0 lead in the series with three matches to go.

England had dominated for most of the first four days but a catastrophic batting collapse on the last morning gave Australia the one chance they needed to steal an unexpected win.

England's stunned captain Andrew Flintoff said his players were struggling to come to terms with how they managed to lose a match that even Australians thought was dead and buried.

''There's a little bit of shock,'' Flintoff told a news conference at Adelaide Oval.

''When we turned up today, we knew the game wasn't in the bag or drawn by any means. We knew we had to play well to get something out of the game, but we were confident of doing so.'' After losing last week's first test in Brisbane by 277 runs, England were sure they had done enough to at least secure a draw after amassing a daunting 551-6 in their first innings on the back of Paul Collingwood's superb 206.

Only three teams in 129 years of test cricket had scored more than 550 in an innings and lost so England had every right to feel safe, especially after they led Australia by 38 after the first innings.

They started the last day 97 in front with nine wickets in hand, but lost their last nine wickets for just 60 runs to leave Australia chasing 168 to win, a target they reached with 19 balls to spare.

''For four days we played some fantastic cricket but I think it's obvious that one bad hour this morning cost us,'' Flintoff said.

''The lads are bitterly, bitterly disappointed because they gave it everything they had but it just shows you that in test cricket one bad hour can cost you the game.'' England came from 1-0 behind to beat Australia 2-1 at home last year but know they face an even tougher task recovering from 2-0 down to retain the Ashes.

''It's a big challenge for us now, two behind in an Ashes series with three games to play, but we can't mope around too much,'' Flintoff said.

''It's going to hurt this game but... none of us want to feel like this again so there's a big incentive for us.

''There's not too many things you can say at this moment in time.

The side are disappointed. They're a proud team and they want to do well in this series.

''I'm sure we'll talk about this game amongst ourselves and discuss where we went (wrong) but it's pretty obvious that one hour this morning cost us and we've got to be big enough to bounce back and face what's in front of us.'' REUTERS PDS PM1735

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