Strauss expects more from England
England delighted Andrew Strauss with their improvement on the way to victory at Perth in the first match of their Ashes tour - and the captain is anticipating even better in Adelaide this week.
Strauss took the man-of-the-match award for his unbeaten second-innings 120 against Western Australia yesterday, as his team eased home by six wickets with 4.1 overs to spare.
But he was enthused by the efforts of others too, after England had turned the relatively distant prospect of a win at start of play on the third and final day into a comfortable success.
Stuart Broad bowled and batted well; Steven Finn was much more threatening with the ball in the second innings, and Kevin Pietersen made useful runs at each attempt.
Strauss was heartened just as much, though, by Graeme Swann’s five wickets - albeit at the cost of 161 runs - in almost 50 overs, and even a double failure by his opening partner Alastair Cook failed to dampen his spirits.
“We’ve learned a few lessons here at the WACA, and I think we all hope we’ll take that into Adelaide and hit the ground running there as well,” he said ahead of England's second tour game - against South Australia.
“This wicket wasn’t conducive to spin at all, but Graeme was still causing trouble.
“He’s probably got to learn how to bowl slightly differently out here, and also his role is going to sometimes have to be a slightly more defensive one.
“But I thought he got a lot better as the game went on, and got his just rewards.”
Swann is unlikely to relinquish his attacking flair easily.
But Strauss added: “He has great control now, so he can bowl a number of different ways.
“It is more field positions and things like that, rather than him bowling anything dramatically different.
“But the great thing about ‘Swanny’ is he’s always a threat, and that’s useful to have.”
As for Cook, Strauss can only hope the runs come in one of four potential innings remaining before this month’s first Test in Brisbane.
“It’s still early days - none of us had played cricket for a while,” he pointed out, noting too that openers perhaps had one of the toughest jobs at the WACA.
“Here, in particular, it was a big ‘new ball’ wicket - so there are no problems from our perspective.
“It’s clearly important the batsmen spend as much time in the middle as possible before the first Test. But we’ve still got two games to go before then.”
Cook is likely to be given maximum opportunity, although Strauss is not ready yet to commit to the consensus that the team which played in Perth is sure to be the same one that takes the field in the first Test.
“We’re trying to get the majority of the people we think are going to be playing in that first Test as much cricket as possible,” he said.
“But I wouldn’t be nailing this down as our Test XI at this stage.”