Strauss leads by example
A rejuvenated Andrew Strauss is backing England’s top six to come good by learning from his own transformation in fortunes.
The Middlesex left-hander hit a composed 106 to help complete a stunning fightback and guide England to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand in the second npower Test at Old Trafford.
It was his second century in the last four innings - he is yet to score less than 60 for England this summer - having been dropped for the pre-Christmas tour to Sri Lanka for enduring 26 successive innings without reaching three figures.
While Strauss continues to flourish at the top of the order, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood have struggled to produce their best.
They had made a combined total of 32 runs this series before the second innings at Old Trafford, but both showed signs of returning to form with 21 and 24 not out respectively.
“It’s hard work when you’re not scoring as many runs as you want to,” said Strauss. “I didn’t realise how hard it was until I went through it.
“From my point of view I’m very lucky to have got the chance to come back and show I wasn’t a spent force, and had an opportunity in the side when some people thought that I shouldn’t be in there.
“It’s very much the case with the guys that are struggling a bit at the moment, but they’ll come through it, there’s no doubt about that.
“You only have to look at the records of the guys in the top six to see we’ve got a very strong batting line-up.”
England have not posted a first-innings total in excess of 400 in the last 11 Tests, but Strauss is hoping the sensational victory in Manchester - when a home win looked almost non-existent with New Zealand 85 for two in the second innings and leading by 266 - will boost confidence in the camp.
“It doesn’t always fire when you want it to and it’s frustrating when it doesn’t, but success breeds success,” Strauss added.
“When we start winning games in a row and building up momentum that will help the guys to score runs and by scoring runs it will help us win more games.
“If a few of the guys are in good form, that’s going to rub off on the other guys.”
Captain Michael Vaughan was also pleased with the unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 46 between Bell and Collingwood, which settled any nerves in the England dressing room following Kevin Pietersen’s run-out.
“Having Bell and Collingwood out there at the end to hit the winning runs, should give them a massive confidence boost,” Vaughan added.
“They were under a lot of pressure, they know that, and came through it. We are a lot happier as a team because we looked like going 1-0 down in the series, but we’re now 1-0 up with a great opportunity of winning.”