England v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test, Rose Bowl, 5th day June 20, 2011

Contented Strauss looks ahead to India


Andrew Strauss had plenty to be frustrated about as England's Test series against Sri Lanka dribbled to a damp conclusion at the Rose Bowl on Monday. He was frustrated by the weather that closed in once again at tea; he was frustrated by his own dropped catch off Rangana Herath in the morning session that might have prised an opportunity for England to press for victory. And he was frustrated by his personal return of 27 runs in four innings, which now means he'll be playing for Somerset against the Indian tourists next month, in a bid to find form before the first Test at Lord's.

In the bigger picture, however, Strauss had plenty more reasons to be content. Thanks to Sri Lanka's extraordinary collapse in the first Test at Cardiff, his team did at least emerge with the series win that their dominance undoubtedly deserved, while his own struggles against the left-arm seam of Chanaka Welegedara were counterbalanced by the composed form of pretty much every other member of his team. With the world's No. 1 Test side waiting in the wings, England look ready for a battle royale.

"We're looking forward to the challenge of taking on India, and hope we can be a difficult proposition for them," he said. "I think we're in good shape. A lot of the batsmen got a lot of runs in this series and are in good form; our bowling attack in this game was exceptional and at times at Cardiff was very good as well. We're a confident team, and we're used to winning and putting opposition teams under pressure - which we did against Sri Lanka.

"I think it's going to be a pretty significant series," he added. "We know India are a very confident side in their own right and are used to winning themselves. We've got our home conditions, and we back ourselves to beat anyone in them, but it's going to be a tough series and will hinge on those important moments and sessions - and we've got to make sure we're able to grasp them."

With that in mind, Strauss's post-match focus was on the fine-tuning that went awry on the final day at the Rose Bowl, as a team that had been under the cosh since the first innings found enough resilence, through Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera, to bat through to the draw. "We just couldn't create chances," he said. "We had that one chance against Herath that was put down, and that might have made a slight difference. But they're a good batting side. The wicket was a bit more placid today and two good players got stuck in."

Had the match not lost 184 overs to rain, Sri Lanka would have struggled to build enough of a lead to stave off defeat, especially with England's batting looking at its most formidable for a generation. But looking ahead to the visit of India, it is the performance of England's bowlers that was the biggest plus to come out of this series. Though they struggled with their lines at Lord's and lacked penetration today, the variety and threat posed by each different member bodes well for the visit of one of the most feared batting units in the world.

Chris Tremlett was named Man of the Series for his 15 wickets at 23.40, including a career-best haul of 6 for 48 in the first innings at the Rose Bowl, and Strauss believed he complemented the attack perfectly. "He did an outstanding job here. This wicket is in some ways tailor-made for him, with the extra carry and bounce, but he made good batsmen look under pressure - and that's a great testament to his aggression and bounce and awkward lift and swing.

"He's certainly added a different dimension to our bowling line-up since he came into the team, and he's very much at the peak of his powers at the moment. I'm sure batsmen later on in the summer will struggle against him as well. This is one of those series that never really got going, but we're very happy to have won it and move on still in a jubilant mood."

Aside from Strauss, England's other form concern was Stuart Broad, whose effectiveness was further hampered on the final day by a bruised heel. Nevertheless, after being stripped of the new ball to make way for Tremlett, he turned in an aggressive performance on the fourth evening that led to the wicket of Mahela Jayawardene, and Strauss was happy to believe he was coming back to his best.

"What he did really well was he just banged out a length consistently, and created scoreboard pressure as well as bowling some really good deliveries," said Strauss. "It just looked like he was in better rhythm, getting it through with good pace and bounce - and I'm sure he will have taken some heart from that spell."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • abhishek on June 22, 2011, 12:28 GMT

    @chris ward... u tak abt Zak's avg... hv a look at anderson.s avg its 31... and that too in conditions which are most suitable for his type of bowling... not a very gud effort is it??? n if u say hes been really gud in the last 18 months then so is Zak and that toomostly in subcontinent... n remember he was man of the series last time wen india toured england...

  • Vijay P on June 22, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    People who are talking about Zak's average of 31 should realize that it is his career average. Now what you have is Zak version 2.0 who is a much better bowler than what he was during the first half of his career. Also don't forget that playing half of your test matches on subcontinent is bound to show a higher average.

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Zak avgs 31...yeah..but unlike England pace bowlers he hardly gets the tracks and weather to assist him....Let the Tremletts n Broads n Jimmys of the world spend 6 months an year bowling fast in indian conditions and look wot it'll do to their averages. No disrespect meant, this Egland team is good but far from being world beaters. They are good only in their backyard with dark clouds and jelly beans...Aah I recalled wot the latter did to Zak n England last time around... ;)

  • Dummy4 on June 22, 2011, 4:21 GMT

    I love all the Indian fans on these pages bigging up their team. Your batting isn't bad but neither is ours - and where are your bowlers?? Harbahajan is past it and all this talk about Zaheer Khan being some world beater - he averages like 31 and probably Stuart Broad would get into the Indian team ahead of him. And what else do you have? Nothing. We have a significantly better bowling line up and an equally comparable batting line up. Swann at nine has only batted 37 times in 32 tests, that's how strong our top order is. Get ready for it, India.

  • John on June 22, 2011, 4:06 GMT

    @just-chill-chill: I agree that India is going to put England in its place, assuming you mean that after the series England will be in the place that India now hold, that is, #1 in the world.

  • Samuel on June 21, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    Just_chill_chill - India put England in their place last time? Please. They won 1-0, with a bore draw at the Oval and hanging on by the skin of their teeth at Lord's. Hardly "putting a side in their place". India have never come to England in my (albeit pretty short so far!) lifetime and dominated; however, they may just have the batting line-up to do so this time. England will have something to say about that I reckon though, which is why I'm looking forward to it so much! Back to this series, it never really took off sadly. I feel this England side play better in front of big crowds with high stakes (look at the Ashes or the WI game in the WC for example), and playing in front of mostly empty stadiums in iffy weather won't have really got the juices flowing, and the same can probably be said for Sri Lanka in all fairness. Happy with the win, but there's definitely room for improvement.

  • Who Cares About IPL on June 21, 2011, 14:58 GMT

    For those who query which team had the better of the last series, I suggest you read the stats article already posted here http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/current/story/520162.html

    For those who are expecting hot and sunny weather when India visit, they obviously do not understand the English climate! SL were unlucky with the weather, but it is not the case that the "early" summer always has worse weather than the later. When India were last in England in 2007, the weather was very poor in July and August, and, in fact, saved India from a very clear defeat in the First Test.

  • Elliott on June 21, 2011, 12:32 GMT

    Should have added... Can't say I'd bet on Eng to win the ODI series against SL. They may have been building a half-decent ODI record until Aus, but it still feels like ODIs are very much 2nd priority. Which will rarely be good enough against really good ODI teams like SL.

  • Elliott on June 21, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    Seems to me that England have a tendency to play well enough to win the things they really want, but not the consistent intensity that's required to win everything going. Hence: win Ashes comprehensively; dismal ODI series against Aus; poor World Cup; series win against SL (but only by 1-0); ...makes a 4 Test series against the number one Test team in the world an enticing prospect. I'm looking forward to this one :o)

  • Dru on June 21, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    Its easy to focus on the rain and the series win but I dont think Eng will be happy with their performance. Sure the batsman did well but against a weak inexperienced attack which doesnt say much but their bowling should be a concern. Yes there was rain but when the conditions werent perfect for seam and swing the bowling attack was no where. Even on that last day of the 3rd test they only managed the nightwatchman and Sanga - when it was too late. Broad surely cannot be a starter against India with all the other seamers in the wings and against a strong Indian line up you just cannot afford to have a weak link.

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