Strauss keeps eyes on the present
Andrew Strauss has warned England not to get carried away by their series whitewash against West Indies as they continue the build-up to this summer's Ashes.
England won by an innings and 83 runs in the second npower Test at Chester-le-Street wrap up a 2-0 series triumph and regain the Wisden Trophy they lost in the Caribbean just two months ago.
The comprehensive manner of those two victories on home soil has lifted England spirits as they prepare to sign off from Test cricket for the next seven and a half weeks while they compete in a one-day series against West Indies and the World Twenty20.
"The reality is that when we step out in Cardiff (for the first Test) this means nothing, really," stressed Strauss. "The only thing is from a team's point of view is that it's nice to remember what it's like to win.
"We haven't done that as much as we'd have liked to recently and we've done it twice in a row and done it in a pretty good fashion.
"That just gives you a little bit more confidence, but once we start that Ashes series it's back to square one and we need to earn the right to win Test matches."
But the length of time between the end of yesterday's final Test and the start of the Ashes has forced England to put their confrontation with Australia at the back of their minds in the coming weeks.
"What I'm saying is that we can't just rely on the fact we've beaten the West Indies twice to carry us through," explained Strauss.
"We need to realise that the Ashes series is going to be a very stern Test for us and we need to earn the right to win that series.
"We often concentrate on the Test side and it's wrong for us to do that too much this summer. This one-day series coming up and the World Twenty20 are two very important series for us as a side developing and hopefully we can win there as well and build up even more momentum."
He added: "We're still conscious not to think too much about it (the Ashes) at this stage because there's a lot of cricket to be played.
"But each time you think about it and you remember what it's been like to play in an Ashes series previously and it certainly gets the heart beating a little bit faster and the juices flowing.
"It's going to be a fantastic second half to the summer and understandably everyone wants to talk about the Ashes now, but there's still a lot of cricket to be played."
West Indies have now just two days to rediscover some form and confidence before they enter the three-match one-day series, and captain Chris Gayle admitted they were architects of their own downfall.
"It's been a disappointing result in both matches, and for part of it we do feel we have ourselves to blame," said Gayle. "It all started from that first Test match when we dropped too many catches when we could have had England on the run.
"Then to play catch-up cricket in these conditions is always a little bit difficult. We're here to do our job - and we didn't go about it properly."