Strauss keen to continue development
Captain Andrew Strauss admitted to a sense of ‘work in progress’ in rainy Durban after his England team became only the second to beat the Proteas in a one-day series in South Africa.
The England captain was happy to celebrate a notable achievement, albeit one concluded with the second washout of a supposed five-match series - by shading the contest 2-1.
England’s two victories were substantial - as was South Africa’s in Cape Town in between - and in the final analysis Paul Collingwood’s hundred at Centurion and James Anderson’s maiden five-wicket haul in Port Elizabeth proved decisive.
In the final ODI at Kingsmead abandonment was rarely in doubt at the end of a very wet week.
“The writing was on the wall for most of the day,” admitted Strauss.
“It’s not really the way we’d like to win the series. But we’ll take it nonetheless.
“There is a lot to be proud of. I think the guys thoroughly deserved that victory. I don’t think anyone can take that away from us.
“It’s a big step forward, so we’re delighted to have achieved it.”
Only Australia have won ODI series here before, and Strauss added: “When you achieve things like that, it’s a great spur to go forward.
“There have been some very good one-day sides over the last 15 or 20 years who have come here and haven’t won.
“It shows we’re capable of beating good sides - and doing it away from home as well.”
Strauss’ team were following up an ICC Champions Trophy campaign in South Africa little more than two months ago when they elminated the hosts - but previously they had lost 6-1 at home to Australia.
With the 2011 ICC World Cup on the horizon, Strauss is encouraged by the apparent improvement.
“There’s a good balance to the side,” he added.
“The guys are playing for each other and are willing to go out and play an expansive type of cricket - and it looks like it’s got the potential to work against most teams.
“Once you build some momentum in terms of a side going somewhere, that can help you really push each other hard.
“It feels like a stronger group of players; it feels like a group who know what they’re trying to do more than maybe 12 months ago.”
Strauss accepts nonetheless there is much more progress to be made.
“I, as captain, and Andy Flower, as coach, are clear in our minds as to where we want to go,” he said.
“Things are looking reasonably rosy. But there’s a hint of caution there, because we still haven’t been as consistent as we want to be - and that’s something we’ve got to try hard to attain.”
England move on to East London tomorrow for two tour matches before a four-match Test series.
“We’re not going to be getting carried away with this victory,” Strauss promised.
“We’ve still got some very important business to take care of on this tour, and the preparation for that starts pretty much as soon as we get to East London.”
He spared a thought too for hosts who were without injured lynchpin all-rounder Jacques Kallis throughout.
“South Africa had their problems in this series - with Jacques Kallis not being available. That is a big hole to fill,” he noted.
“But you’ve still got to go out and beat them, and so far we’ve dealt with playing away from home pretty well.”
Strauss’ opposite number Graeme Smith conceded his frustration having lost his first home ODI series as captain.
“To lose any series is massively disappointing,” he said.
“But I think as a team, we can learn from tough times. We haven’t performed to our potential, so we’ve had a lot of different times to talk about these things.
“England have put a lot of their ideas into practice and have played well - and ultimately have deserved their series victory.”
Meanwhile, England ODI squad members Joe Denly, Sajid Mahmood and James Tredwell are to join the Performance Programme in Centurion rather than fly home immediately.
Test squad seamer Ryan Sidebottom has a side strain, which is not at this stage thought serious.