Home comforts encourage Strauss
Skipper Andrew Strauss is hoping England can make home advantage count in the npower Test series against India - a challenge he feels is on a par with winning the Ashes in Australia.
Strauss returns to the international fold for the opening Test at Lord’s next week against the number one-ranked side in the world.
The opener is playing for Somerset against the tourists later this week in a bid to recapture his form, but already he has half an eye on the main event of the summer.
Strauss said: “This is certainly up there with the Ashes. But I think the one thing we have in our advantage is we’ve got home advantage.
“We expect to beat any side at home - and so you should - because it is a substantial advantage.
“The side is better equipped than in 2007 (when England lost to India). We’ve had a lot of success recently and we’re a more competent unit. We’re comfortable in our home conditions.”
Strauss knows the challenge posed by India will be considerable, but he has great confidence that an England side that have won seven of their last eight Test series can extend that run.
“It will be a great test of us as a side and one we’re capable of passing,” he insisted. “We’re all going to be very motivated, me more than most, and hopefully that will equate to some good scores.
“We’ve been progressing every series we’ve been playing in over the last couple of years.
"We are going to be required to step up a level over the next four Test matches but we’re more than capable of doing it.
“That motivation of playing against the best side in the world is just the challenge we need at the moment.”
Strauss also wants England to keep Sachin Tendulkar waiting to register his 100th international century.
Tendulkar has scored 51 Test tons and 48 one-day international hundreds in his remarkable career and could achieve the three-figure milestone in the series opener at Lord’s starting next Thursday, the 2,000th Test in history.
Strauss hopes to leave the 37-year-old stuck on the 99 mark as long as possible.
He said: “The longer it goes on, that he is on 99, the better. We know what a quality player Sachin is. You only have to look at his record to see that.
“We are not focusing on him. He will get just as much or as little attention as any one of their other players because they have quality from one to 11.
“They are not a one-trick pony by any means. There are going to be some challenges there for our bowlers. They have a very good batting line-up.
“You only have to look at what India have done in the last two years to know India will be incredibly confident. They have a lot of good players and are heavily motivated to win this series.
“We will have to be at our best if we want to compete with them - we’re under no illusions about that - but that excites us. In international cricket, you always need challenges and this one excites us.”
Former England coach Duncan Fletcher will be in charge of India, but Strauss believes he can have only a limited impact on events in the middle.
“Duncan knows a number of our players reasonably well but I’ve always felt that the planning aspect is (only) one part of it,” said Strauss.
“People delivering out in the middle is the most important thing and your coaches aren’t in the middle with you.
“I’m sure he’ll be very motivated to win this series but it’s not something we’re focusing our attentions on.”