Bullish Strauss backs England to prevail
Andrew Strauss respects the threat posed by South Africa, but is certain England have what it takes to emerge victorious in the Investec Test series.
Strauss, twice a centurion in England’s last Test assignment against West Indies, is relishing the challenge that awaits in a three-match rubber starting at the Kia Oval on Thursday.
South Africa can replace their hosts as the world’s number-one ranked side in five-day cricket should they triumph, and boast a squad packed full of talent.
Yet in an exclusive interview with ecb.co.uk, England's skipper expressed confidence in the players at his disposal.
“It should be a really scintillating series and I’m certainly looking forward to it,” said Strauss, who struck 127 not out for Middlesex this week in the LV= County Championship.
“They are very keen to knock us off our perch, and we’re even more determined to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“They’re a strong side; they’ve got no obvious weaknesses, but I back us to beat most sides in the world and we’ve got our own strengths as well.
“I’m very excited. The closer we get, the more the excitement grows.”
Much has been made of South Africa’s strong bowling unit, which is set to include pacemen Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander together with leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
“They’re obviously one of the best attacks in the world, so me and Cooky (fellow opener Alastair Cook) are going to have to have our wits about us, but that’s what you expect,” explained Strauss.
“In Test cricket there are no real easy bowling attacks to face up against and I’m certainly looking forward to that challenge.”
England, of course, are hardly short of capable performers with the ball, and Strauss said: “I’d take our bowling attack over any in the world, so I’m sure we’ll be able to create a few problems of our own.”
Elaborating on the series as a whole, he added: “If they win the series they go top of the world and if we win we stay number one, so there is that added context to it, which always helps.”
“But, in truth, England versus South Africa series are always massive events in their own right and this one will be no different.”