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Strauss Backs England to Rebound With No. 1 Ranking at Risk

England captain Andrew Strauss backed his team to rebound from its worst Test cricket loss in 2 1/2 years as it seeks to retain the No. 1 ranking.

South Africa routed England by an innings and 12 runs yesterday at the Oval in London in the first of three matches between the teams. The third-ranked South Africans would leapfrog England atop the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings by winning the series.

“I am sure there are lessons for us to learn coming out of this Test match,” Strauss said at a news conference. “There have to be and it is important in a three-Test series not to repeat those mistakes in the next game.”

The second match starts Aug. 2 in Leeds before the series finale at Lord’s in London beginning Aug. 16.

Only three teams in 135 years of elite Tests have come back from 1-0 down to win a three-match series after losing the opener by an innings, according to the ICC. England was the last team to do so, against Sri Lanka in 2001.

South Africa paceman Dale Steyn, the world’s No. 1-ranked Test bowler, took five wickets yesterday as England was dismissed for 240 in its second innings on the final day. South Africa had declared on 637-2 in reply to the home team’s first- innings 385.

England’s bowlers were made to toil at the Oval as Hashim Amla hit a South African record 311 not out, Jacques Kallis made 182 and captain Graeme Smith scored 131. It was South Africa’s first victory in 14 Tests at the south London venue.

‘Incredible Achievement’

“It’s certainly an extremely proud moment for all of us,” said Smith, who will return home for the birth of his first child before the next match starts. “All credit to our bowlers. They finished it off on a really good batting wicket. And I must give credit to Hash, it was an incredible achievement.”

Amla took the man-of-the-match award after becoming the first South African to score a triple century in Tests.

“I just enjoyed my game and fortunately things fell into place for me,” Amla said. “Batting is all about hanging in there and making as many runs as you can and fortunately this time it went my way.”

England resumed on 102-4 yesterday and Steyn bowled Ravi Bopara for 22 to reduce the home team to 177-5 at lunch. Matt Prior and Ian Bell put on 86 runs for the sixth wicket before Imran Tahir had Prior caught by Kallis for 40.

Steyn then combined with Kallis to remove Bell for 55 and had Stuart Broad caught behind by AB de Villiers without scoring to leave England on 210-8.

Steyn took his fifth wicket of the innings as Graeme Swann was caught by Alviro Petersen for seven, and Tahir wrapped up the victory by trapping James Anderson leg-before-wicket just before 4 p.m. Steyn finished with 5-56, while Tahir was 3-63.

“We were outplayed in the last four days of the game, but I still think we will come back into the series,” Strauss said. “We have often played our best when we have come off a defeat and this is a good challenge for us.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter-Joseph Hegarty in London at phegarty@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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