Strauss seeks further success
England Test captain Andrew Strauss has one clear ambition for his side as he looks ahead to 2012, simply to keep winning matches.
Strauss could perhaps be forgiven for looking back rather than forward after a 12-month period in which England secured an historic Ashes triumph in Australia, before climbing to the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings with series victories over Sri Lanka and India, the latter by a stunning 4-0 margin.
However, the left-handed opener is determined to keep his full focus on overseeing further improvement, starting with this winter’s matches against Pakistan, in the United Arab Emirates, and Sri Lanka.
Speaking at the annual Chance to Shine awards at Lord’s, Strauss told ecb.co.uk: “It’s been an amazing year for English cricket. To have won the Ashes in Australia and then come back to England and gain the number one ranking in Test cricket is a fantastic achievement and all the players should be very proud of what they have achieved.
“But I think we are also conscious that there is a lot of hard work to be done. Getting to the top is the easy bit and there are going to be some pretty stern challenges ahead, as we saw in India with the one-day series (which England lost 5-0).”
“There are always new challenges. To continue as number one in the world means you’re going to be playing some consistent cricket, which is a good aim for us, but we can’t get too caught up in the rankings. The rankings will look after themselves as long as we keep winning.”
Having excelled on home soil in recent years, England are eager to achieve similar success in their touring assignments, just as they did Down Under last winter.
“We’ve been quite consistent at home for a while now,” acknowledged Strauss. “Winning away from home is always more challenging, so this winter in the sub-continent is going to be tough for us, but it’s the sort of challenge we need.
“It will prevent us from resting on our laurels and will keep us motivated to keep improving.
“We’re going to have to be desperate to stay there (number one in the Test rankings) if we are going to. There’s a lot of hard work for us, as a side, ahead and that excites me. It’s a good challenge for us. It prevents players from taking their foot off the gas.”
Asked whether he considered his time as skipper to have been a golden period for English cricket, Strauss replied: “I don’t know because it hasn’t quite finished yet!
“We’ve had some great times over the last couple of years, but it takes more than two years to create a legacy for yourselves as a side and that’s our challenge in the forseeable future for sure.
“There’s good competition for places in the side and hopefully that will spur us on as well.”