Strauss' England on the verge

England v West Indies
Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss' unbeaten 79 on Sunday has given England a chance of victory

Captain Andrew Strauss knows England go into their final match of the West Indies tour within striking distance of a first one-day series victory on Caribbean soil.

England have suffered humiliation during the tour, being bowled out for 51 in the first Test in Jamaica, a passage of play that ultimately cost England both the match and Test series.

A one-day series victory looked far from realistic when England were skittled for 117 in the third match in Barbados, but history is now in their sights.

Under a rigorous fitness regime established during the current series, the side are now favourites to beat West Indies at the Beausejour Stadium.

“I suppose there was potential for us to go off the rails and we haven't done that," said Strauss. "To lose the Test series was bitterly disappointing but I think the guys have stuck together very well.

“It bodes well for the future but at the same time it's important we keep doing the hard work we've done on this tour.

“It's not just a one-off, but part of an on-going process and if we do that I'm sure we'll get the results on the pitch as well.

“We've put in a huge amount of work over the last 10 weeks off the field and the guys have responded excellently. The amount of fitness work we've done, the amount of training work we've done has been very impressive but you want to see the rewards for that hard work we've put in.

“We will be judged not on how well we've done in our training sessions but how well we've done on the pitch which is why this game is a very important one.”

Strauss' great success as captain during this tour has been in persuading the players to accept a gruelling fitness regime.

It has resulted in England undertaking tough training sessions, including boxing, running and sit-ups both before and during batting in the nets to try and simulate the tiredness felt during a long innings.

“We've tried to explain to the players a little bit more of the need to do things or why we're doing things or giving them more freedom into how they go about it,” said Strauss.

Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle will be hoping to lead his side to a one-day series win to go with their Test triumph

“All the stuff we do off the pitch is designed to help us perform on the pitch. It's not a case of being told what to do, it's about wanting to get back to playing better cricket and if we feel there are ways of doing that which we're all comfortable with then the work ethic will always be there."

Strauss stressed that he and interim coach Andy Flower have been keen to stamp their partnership on the side.

“You do it your own way and myself and Andy have different views to Peter Moores, Duncan Fletcher or Michael Vaughan," explained Strauss.

“We have done some things differently and we will continue to do that in the future.”

Meanwhile, West Indies' players have agreed to take part in the decider although negotiations are continuing in their dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board.

The players want a better infrastructure and payment schedule in domestic cricket and were all - including the international players - prepared to strike if an agreement was not reached.

But talks in St Lucia today have brought the two sides closer together and captain Chris Gayle has confirmed West Indies will be attempting to secure the victory that would seal a series win.

“They are having discussions at the moment but we will be playing this match," explained Gayle. "Based on what we've heard, things seem to be breaking down properly and hopefully it will all finish off well.

"There's a possibility things won't finish today but at least we're getting somewhere so basically we've agreed to play tomorrow.

"If I wasn't going to be playing in the game I wouldn't be here in St Lucia, I'd be at home."

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