Strauss satisfied ahead of Proteas challenge
Andrew Strauss admitted to a sense of frustration after the third Investec Test with West Indies ended in a predictable draw, but believes England are in good shape ahead of their future assignments.
After the first two days had been lost to rain at Edgbaston, a third washout today removed any chance of a positive result.
England were not at their best when the showers relented on days three and four, reaching 221 for five in reply to the tourists’ 426.
Yet Strauss could still look back with satisfaction on a successful series, which his side won 2-0 to retain the Wisden Trophy, and remains confident ahead of the three-Test rubber with South Africa that lies ahead.
“Obviously we played enough good cricket in those first two Test matches to win them reasonably comfortably,” said England’s captain.
“This Test match was frustrating for all sorts of reasons. Clearly the rain wiping out the first two days doesn’t help with the intensity of the cricket and we certainly didn’t get everything right when we were out there in the field, but I think by and large we are very happy to have won the series.
“West Indies have got some dangerous players, we were able to overcome that challenge and we obviously go into our next Test assignment in pretty good fettle and feeling pretty confident.”
Strauss pointed to England’s struggles with the ball on the fourth morning, when Windies number 11 Tino Best compiled a remarkable 95, as an obvious source of irritation.
However, he also reflected on encouraging individual performances from batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell, together with recalled seamers Steven Finn and Graham Onions.
“It wasn’t a perfect performance by us, in the little play we did have, and that is frustrating,” he added.
“There are definitely areas we need to sharpen up on. Obviously we dropped a few catches and you don’t want to be in a situation where number 11 gets 95 all that often!”
“We found ourselves under a bit of pressure with the bat, but there were still some good performances.
“I think KP and Belly batted very well and I thought Finn and Onions acquitted themselves exceptionally well and it was good to have them back in the side.
“Over the course of the three matches there are a lot of things to be very happy about, but we’re probably aware that we need to improve our standards a bit before that South Africa series starts.”
Despite the lack of action on days one and two, Strauss retained the belief that England could record a third straight victory when play belatedly got under way on Saturday morning.
“I think it was quite a good toss to win and if we had bundled West Indies out cheaply we had a great chance of winning the game,” he explained.
“But the wicket didn’t nip around all that much, it was a very good wicket given the circumstances, and they played well.
“There were a number of partnerships throughout their order and if we had bowled them out for 280-odd that would have been a good performance, but that 10th-wicket stand took our opportunity of winning the game out of the window. We had to fight quite hard to make sure they didn’t have an opportunity to win the game.”
Strauss was named England’s player of the series for his 326 runs in five innings, including centuries at Lord’s and Trent Bridge.
Having battled through a lean spell, the left-handed opening batsman intends to carry his good form forward.
“To get a couple of hundreds and make sure that story didn’t become a snowballer is satisfying,” he added.
“I think the most important thing is you always need performances at the top of the order to get big scores and it was my turn to do it now. We’ve had a habit of people popping up and doing that over different series.
“Now I’m back in a bit of form I’m obviously determined to make the most of it.”