Strauss urges England to stay ahead
Andrew Strauss has challenged his England side to remain top of the ICC Test rankings for a prolonged period after they secured their passage to the summit with victory over India at Edgbaston today.
Strauss’ men thrashed the tourists by an innings and 242 runs to win the npower series with a game to spare and clinch the two-match margin of victory they required to usurp their opponents.
The number-one spot has been a long-stated aim of Strauss, who inherited the captaincy in January 2009 when England were in mid-table.
Now they have reached that goal, Strauss set a new focus.
“I don’t think it is an end in itself,” he said.
“I think we told everyone it was a big goal of ours. Just because the rankings tell us we’re number one that doesn’t mean our job’s over.
“There’s a huge task ahead of ourselves to stay number one, but also to compete every series we play in and win as many series as possible.
“We were very determined in this series; we felt we had a good chance of winning in our conditions, and I am proud of the way we played.
“These are big series and you either come out smelling of roses or it doesn’t go your way.”
Strauss urged his players not to be complacent now they have reached their long-term goal.
Asked if England can stay there for a meaningful period, he replied: “I think so, but just bear in mind there are a number of other teams anxious to have this mantle to be the number-one side.
“So I think it’s arrogant for us to assume we can just waltz our way and assume everything’s going to be hunky-dory all the time.
“We’re going to have to be determined and desperate to stay there and the way to do that is not by focusing on the rankings.
“It’s by getting your competitive juices flowing in any series we play. That’s exactly what we’re going to have to do.”
Strauss believes it is difficult to compare this achievement with England’s 3-1 Ashes triumph last winter.
“It’s different,” he continued. “With an Ashes series there’s so much emotion and rivalry between the countries.
"This series is very much about measuring ourselves against the best in the world and hopefully having the opportunity to overtake them.
“That’s what we’ve achieved in the last three games. We’re very proud of the way we’ve performed in the three games.
“We’ve been very close to our best so we are very satisfied with what we’ve achieved and delighted to have gone to number one ourselves.”
Although England’s 3-0 lead would suggest the npower series has been one-sided, Strauss stressed this is not the case.
He recalled that India dominated for periods at Lord’s and Trent Bridge.
“We’ve not had everything our own way in this series,” he said. “We’ve dominated this Test in particular but there were times in first two when we were behind.
“In our own conditions you’ve got to back yourself to beat anyone, especially if you want to be the best in the world.
“We’ve achieved that through a lot of guys standing up and delivering when it matters.
He added: “Sitting back it looks like three easy victories. Two were pretty tough, this one was a bit easier.”
Alastair Cook, who was man of the match for his career-best 294, shares Strauss’ belief that the journey is far from over.
"I think we're on the way to doing something special,” he said.
"It's been a huge privilege for me to play in this team, and I think we all feel that at the moment.
"But I think we're still at the start of a journey, rather than the end of it.
"We will enjoy tonight, and what we've achieved, but then come back in the next couple of days desperate to start again. That's where this side is at.”