Strauss happy with England focus
Andrew Strauss and Chris Gayle meet the press on the eve of the first Test at Lord's
England captain Andrew Strauss is entirely satisfied with the preparation of his players ahead of tomorrow’s opening npower Test match against West Indies.
Three members of the England squad (Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood) have only recently returned from South Africa, where they were playing in the Indian Premier League.
But Strauss is confident their participation in the tournament will not prove detrimental to their performances in the Test arena.
“All the guys who have come back from the IPL, their enthusiasm in meetings and practice has been huge,” he said.
“I know they all thoroughly enjoyed their experience, because it was so different. That is a symptom of a good mindset. That is the key. If they get that right, they will go out and perform.
“We’ve got a Twenty20 World Cup just around the corner. If those guys haven’t learned anything from those four weeks then they’re never going to learn anything.”
“Judging from what they’ve said about the IPL, they’ve really experienced a huge number of new things.
“For the Twenty20 World Cup, it’s fantastic they were there; for this Test series, it’s important they put that all to the back of their mind and concentrate on this.
"That is a bit of a challenge for them, clearly. But they’re all good, experienced players - and there’s no reason why they can’t do that.”
With or without the IPL, Strauss knows England have points to prove against opponents who have just beaten them 1-0.
He is well aware of the fact England have not won the first Test of any series in their last 14 attempts, stretching back four years.
“You can’t just say it is an unfortunate coincidence when it has happened in 14 series. We want to put that record straight,” he insists.
“It has certainly been mentioned, and it would be wrong if we didn’t mention it.
“The reality is you don’t want to be either level or behind after the first Test of any series. You want to be in front.
“It is something we are mindful of, and any thoughts of easing our way into the Test match summer are something we are trying to avoid at all costs.
“If you come into the summer with the attitude ‘it’s the first Test, let’s see how it develops’, you will put yourself under a huge amount of pressure.
“From our point of view, these are two massive Test matches after what happened in the West Indies. We are looking for revenge; we’re looking to win back that Wisden Trophy.
“In our conditions, it’s important we believe we can beat anyone.”