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India the priority for Strauss

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Andrew Strauss

Ahead of the tour match, Andrew Strauss said: “If I get some runs, it will be perfect preparation for the Test series, playing against some of their bowlers."

Skipper Andrew Strauss insists focusing on beating India in the npower Test series is more important than the ultimate goal of England becoming number-one ranked side in the world.

Strauss will have an early look at the tourists when he plays for Somerset at Taunton in a three-day tour match starting tomorrow.

England can displace India at the top of the ICC rankings if they win the four-match series by a two-game margin.

Strauss said: “It would be great if we could achieve that goal this summer. That would be a fantastic step forward for us as a group. But I wouldn’t say the hard work will be done then.

“What we are looking for is something a bit more sustained than that and even us thinking about winning by two clear games at this stage is unhelpful. It is a good incentive but I think the most important thing is us looking to go out there and win the series.

“It is always dangerous to look too far ahead. We’ve always said it is our ultimate goal to become the number-one side in the world. But that is not something we need to focus on particularly. We only get there by playing good cricket consistently.

“Whether it happens at the end of this series, or in six or 12 months time, it is still going to be a goal for us and we know the size of the challenge.

“It is one thing to be number one in the rankings. It is another to be acknowledged all around the world as the number-one side and that is a far longer term goal.”

Strauss added: “India are the number-one side in the world, have played a hell of a lot of good cricket during the past two years, and collectively they will be a tough nut to crack. But these challenges generally bring the best out of our players and we look forward to doing that.

“You just have to look at the India team sheet to see there is a huge amount of quality, players who have performed over a long period of time.

Duncan Fletcher & Andrew Strauss

Strauss hailed Duncan Fletcher, left. “He was an integral in me changing from a promising county player into a fully fledged Test player," he said

“They are not flash in the pans. We are going to have to use our home advantage well and we are going to have to play good consistent cricket.”

Strauss was quick to hail the influence on his international career of India’s former England coach Duncan Fletcher.

“I’ve got a huge regard for Duncan as a man and as a coach,” he said “He was an integral in me changing from a promising county player into a fully fledged Test player.

“It is great to see him have the opportunity to coach India. But I don’t think he is going to tell them anything they particularly don’t know about us.”

Strauss is playing on loan for Somerset to obtain some match practice before the opening Test at Lord’s, but insists whatever he achieves in the three-day game will have little bearing on what lies ahead.

“I wouldn’t be playing any cricket this week if Somerset hadn’t given me this opportunity,” he continued.

“I’m very grateful to the club for allowing me to play. It’s usually a good wicket down here so hopefully an opportunity for me to get some runs before the Test. But we all know this is a prelude to the Test, so what happens here has no great effect on what happens in the first Test.

“If I get some runs, it will be perfect preparation for the Test series, playing against some of their bowlers. But it doesn’t guarantee anything for the Test match.

“It is not a gamble at all. It is crucial for me to be able to play some cricket this week and thankfully this opportunity came up. What I do this week will not have any dramatic effect on how the Test series goes.”

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