Captain Strauss refuses to reach for the panic button

England skipper Andrew Strauss will not be drawn into a sense of panic despite his side's World Cup preparations threatening to unravel after a third consecutive defeat to Australia in Sydney.

England lost by four wickets at the Sydney Cricket Ground after a poor batting display saw Strauss' side bowled out for 214 and left their depleted bowling attack with too little to defend.

Only a defiant unbeaten 84 from Jonathan Trott, who batted through the innings after coming in during the first over, provided reason for cheer in a performance undermined by soft dismissals.

England's second-string battled gamely to reduce Australia to 100-5 in response, but in the end they did not have enough firepower as David Hussey's unbeaten 68 saw the hosts home with four overs to spare.

Strauss admitted his batsmen had again let the side down, after they were bundled out for 184 in Hobart, but denied they needed to change an approach that had seen them win their previous six one-day series.

"It's not the time to panic," the captain declared. "I still want us to play positive, aggressive, attacking cricket. That's the only way we're going to succeed in Australia or in the World Cup.

"I want them to play with freedom. If we keep doing that and keep believing then I think things will turn around. Now's the time that you have got to have confidence in players rather than damage them.

"All I can say is we need to look forward and improve. There's no point us crying into our Cornflakes. We've to get ourselves up, move on to Adelaide and play better."

After falling 3-0 behind in the series heading into Wednesday's fourth match, Strauss denied his team were showing signs of a post-Ashes malaise and ruled out fatigue as a reason for their faltering fortunes.

"I haven't noticed that personally," Strauss added. "I think the guys have been pretty buoyant. We've got a little bit of a changeover in personnel as well."

England's defeat was further soured by the news Yorkshire all-rounder Tim Bresnan had been ruled out of the series with a calf injury suffered in Friday's 46-run defeat in Hobart.

Kevin Pietersen also failed to take his place due to a groin injury, but Strauss is hopeful he will return in Adelaide along with James Anderson who has completed his scheduled post-Ashes break.

Anderson's return will be welcome with first-choice bowlers Graeme Swan (knee), who Strauss confirmed is not likely to return before the penultimate game of this series, Stuart Broad (stomach) and now Bresnan on the sidelines.

With England's World Cup opener against Holland less than a month away Strauss admitted that managing the players' workload was crucial, but refused to criticise a protracted schedule in Australia that sees them playing two Twenty20s and seven one-dayers after their Ashes success.

"We knew the itinerary before we came. It hasn't changed," he said.

"You've got to manage heavy schedules. You can't just throw your hands up and say 'we can't compete'," he said.

Richie Myler.

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