Strauss keen to get on 'new cycle'
England Test captain Andrew Strauss has called on his players to put their Ashes glory behind them and begin a new chapter when they face Sri Lanka in the first npower Test at Cardiff tomorrow.
It is less than five months since the opener led his side to a triumphant 3-1 series win Down Under, but Strauss is keen to draw a line under the recent past and continue the push to become the best side in the world.
Victory over Sri Lanka and current number ones India, who arrive later this summer, would go a long way to realising that aim and Strauss believes that is more important than lingering on previous successes.
“To be honest, this is not a homecoming. If we were going to have a homecoming, that would have taken place a long time ago,” he said.
“This is the start of a new cycle in a way. It is the start of a very busy and difficult summer for us and it is hopefully an opportunity for us to make a step forward to becoming number one in the world.
“That excites us and I think for us to be thinking too much back to what happened in Sydney at this stage is not helpful.
“We have got to learn lessons from what we did well in Australia and put those into practice again, but our goals have shifted completely now.
"We achieved quite an important goal for us as a side – to win out there in Australia – but our goals now have turned towards this summer and beyond.”
While Strauss’ stated aim of being the top-ranked Test side has long been discussed, it is now a more achievable one than ever before.
Nonetheless, the 34-year-old, who is concentrating exclusively on the longer format after retiring from the one-day side following the World Cup, is all too aware it will not be an easy goal to realise.
“I think we are not going to worry about staying there at number one for now. The key is to get there,” he said.
“We are some way off that and it might take us a long time to get there. Certainly if we drift into the summer and don’t hit top gear straight away it could seem like a long way off.
“There’s a lot of motivation now for us to take the next step. I will be very disappointed if any of the players are resting on laurels or anything like that. We need to hit ground running. There is no doubt about that.”
Strauss also intends to be on the front line for plenty more campaigns, something he believes his one-day retirement will help.
“Mentally I feel very fresh,” he continued. “In a way it is quite a nice thing to concentrate on one format and make sure my game is in as good order as possible rather than drifting between all formats.”
However, Strauss believes England cannot afford to take their opponents lightly.
"They have won both their tour games and played well," he said. "They have some high quality players, some of them we don't know much about but that does not mean they are not good bowlers, we expect a stern test.
"Sri Lanka are always competitive, they are a streetwise cricket side and they are a tough nut to crack."
“We’ve been looking at that over the last few days,” he added. “There are improvements we can make on the pitch and off the pitch as well. We’ve got to be realistic. We’re not going to beat every team we play by an innings every time.
“Sometimes it is going to be very hard work for us and sometimes we are going to be behind in games.
"But if we get our preparation 100% right and if our environment is 100% right, hopefully we will achieve the consistency you need if you want to be the number one team in the world.”