Strauss: We must not change stripes

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Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss, captain of the world's top-ranked Test side, said: "It's a different mindset being the hunted rather than the hunters."

Andrew Strauss accepts England have become the most wanted team in Test cricket, having elevated themselves from hunter to hunted.

Strauss led England to a 4-0 whitewash of India during the summer, a result that installed them as the world's number one Test side.

The first challenge to their supremacy will come during a three-match showdown with Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, which begins on January 17.

Strauss, speaking at Lord's where it was announced a 10-year deal has been agreed for Investec to become title sponsor of home England Tests, believes their new status demands a fresh approach.

"We recognise that the next 12-18 months will be the biggest test we've had yet as a group," said the captain.

"It's a different mindset being the hunted rather than the hunters. We'll have to retain that desperate desire to improve if we want to stay on top.

"It's an exciting time for us. I'm certainly very excited about it, but we don't underestimate the size of the challenge.

"There are a lot of teams below us who want to knock us off our perch."

A two-Test series with Sri Lanka completes England's winter schedule, before the summer's action starts versus West Indies in May and concludes with a mouth-watering showdown against South Africa.

South Africa, who were this month held to a thrilling 1-1 series draw by Australia, are ranked third in the world and Strauss expects them to provide formidable opposition.

"We've seen a resurgence in West Indies cricket in recent times, so that will be a challenge for us," he said. "Hopefully early-season conditions will suit us more than them.

Darren Bravo

Darren Bravo's utterly relentless run-scoring typifies what Strauss described as "a resurgence in West Indies cricket in recent times."

"And we all know about the qualities of South Africa, they've just finished an outstanding series against Australia. They have a very good bowling attack and their record here is very good.

"They'll definitely be one of those teams looking to knock us off our perch and they'll be one of our bigger undertakings in the next 12-18 months."

Strauss warned of the need to be pro-active in developing the appeal of Test cricket to protect it from the growing popularity of the one-day and Twenty20 formats.

"It's important to market the game as well as possible, that's a crucial part of it," he said.

"In a lot of ways in the past we've relied on Test cricket always being around. Now we must knock our heads together to evaluate what's the best way of marketing it and how to bring people to the game.

"There's a strong argument that says that one-day and Twenty20 cricket is a good way of feeding people through. The added context of a world Test championship or something similar is a good idea.

"I'd hate to think anyone's arrogant enough to assume Test cricket will always be around. I don't think that's the case.

"I'm buoyed by what great support there is for the game in this country, but I'm also quite aware that in other parts of the world it's less so.

“We're in a fortunate position here but it's up to administrators all over the world to ensure they keep working on the product."