Time for celebration is over - Gooch
England batting coach Graham Gooch insists the team have already moved on to the next challenge after securing top spot in the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
Andrew Strauss’ side, who ensured they would overtake opponents India by moving 3-0 up in the npower series with a crushing innings-and-242-run victory at Edgbaston last week, got off to the perfect start today in the fourth Test at the Kia Oval.
Strauss and opening partner Alastair Cook eased England to 75 without loss against a largely unthreatening touring attack before rain wiped out the afternoon and evening sessions.
The hosts will now hope to build a substantial first-innings score when play resumes tomorrow and Gooch is confident they will not ease up as they look to secure a series whitewash.
When asked about England’s rise to the top of the rankings, he responded: "It's a nice landmark, but the team draw a line under it now.
"The only thing they're interested in now, the only game that counts is here at 11 o'clock tomorrow - and when this one's over, the only game that counts will be the next one.
"If you keep winning cricket matches, and keep winning series, you might be able to retain that status. Being number one doesn't guarantee you winning a cricket match."
England’s relatively untroubled progress justified Strauss’ decision to bat despite heavy cloud cover this morning.
"The wicket looked pretty good - a bit of fluffy grass, brown in colour. But whatever happens at the toss, you have to play good cricket," Gooch added.
"Down the years England have put together good teams that have played well. I think the difference with this team is it is playing consistent cricket on a regular basis, and gelling more all the time.
"They all know each other and their roles, they are well-led, well-drilled and you’re seeing the benefit."
Gooch has remained England’s record run-scorer in Tests ever since his retirement from international cricket in 1995.
His tally of 8,900 appears likely to come under threat from several of the current side, particularly the prolific Cook, but the 58-year-old is far from worried.
"As far as I’m concerned I’ll be absolutely delighted if someone goes past any of my records, because it’ll mean England are winning cricket matches," he explained.
"From the time I was a captain, player and selector, I was only interested in one thing, and that was England winning cricket matches.
"It’s not about records; it’s about winning matches. All those guys who contribute to a team performance put their side in with a chance of winning."
India were hampered today by the absence of Praveen Kumar, comfortably their most consistent performer with the ball in this series, after the paceman was ruled out with an ankle injury.
RP Singh was recalled to the tourists’ attack as a result, for his first Test appearance since April 2008.
The left-armer struggled badly in his opening over, which featured a number of deliveries down the leg side, but was satisfied with his performance for the remainder of the morning.
"I was a bit nervous to start, so that’s why I bowled here and there in the first over, but after that gradually my line and length was better. I just need a good click," he said.
Singh had not featured in a first-class match since January, but played down concerns over his own fitness.
"I am fit for all matches. Obviously, in India, the domestic four-day season is September to March, so I didn’t play too many four-day games, but I played a few one-day games and IPL," he added.
Singh also refused to be too downhearted when questioned about India’s collective bowling display.
"It was pretty good," he continued. "We bowled a proper line and length, just waiting for any good chance. You can say it is not as good (as it should be), but slowly, slowly it is getting better."