Strauss aware of challenge ahead
Andrew Strauss expects Sri Lankan conditions to provide a tough physical test for England.
Strauss’ side are not quite coming in from the cold having recently been on a lengthy tour of the United Arab Emirates, but the captain has warned that Sri Lanka promises to provide an even greater challenge.
The tourists play their first of two warm-up matches against the Sri Lanka Board XI tomorrow, with Tests in Colombo and Galle to follow.
Strauss expects the squad to be up to full speed by time the first Test arrives on March 26, but does not think it will be easy.
“The conditions here are very different to Dubai,” he said. “There’s a lot more humidity and the heat is much more of a factor for us out here.
“Some of us have been here a week now getting used to it and getting used to the challenges. For the guys who have been in England for a while it’s the contrast more than anything that gets you.
“Hopefully once the Tests start we’ll be very much on top of it. You need to have strategies in place because no matter what sport you’re playing, in whatever part of the world, if you overheat then you’re in trouble.”
Strauss is hoping to find his best form on this trip as he looks to end a modest run that has seen him go 14 Tests without a century and pass 50 just once in his last seven innings.
“You always want to be in good form, you always want to lead from the front,” he said.
“I was quite encouraged by how I started to play towards the end of the Pakistan series and I need to build on that in next couple of Tests.
“The one-day guys haven’t had a lot of time off so I can come back in and add some real impetus and motivation to them having had a decent rest myself.”
Strauss, meanwhile, is also keen to draw a line under the 3-0 whitewash suffered at the hands of Pakistan in England’s last Test outing.
He was one of the batsmen that struggled as spin duo Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman caused problems for the world’s number-one ranked Test outfit.
But England now move on to a new chapter and, with the groundwork now done, their tour starts in earnest with the match against the Sri Lanka Board XI.
“One of the real advantages of international cricket is it always gives you the chance to move on,” he said.
“The guys in the one-day team will have moved on from the Pakistan Test series pretty quickly and now it’s an opportunity for the Test squad to move on from what happened.
“We’re still very confident in our abilities, still confident that we’ve got as good a side as any in the world and we have the chance to show that in the next two Test matches.
“This has the potential to be a really good opportunity to make some strides forward in this part of the world and we’re determined to take it.
“In the two warm-up matches before the first Test we really need to hit the ground running and get our methods in place.
“There’s a good buzz about the squad and there’s some momentum from the one-dayers against Pakistan that we need to take out on the pitch.”
Strauss admits that a period of self-analysis was necessary for the under-performing top order but has warned that England cannot allow a preoccupation with spin to cause them other problems.
“Over the course of the last series we were forced to address a few issues,” he said. “To a man, I think the guys did that and we saw some of the benefits in the one-day series.
“But it’s important we’re not transfixed by spin and concentrate all of our efforts on that. We need to be on the ball against the seamers in the first session of the match. In a lot of Test matches out here, the ball nibbles around a bit on the first day.
“We’ve got to make sure we leave no stone unturned so we’re not surprised by anything on the pitch.”