England in Sri Lanka 2011-12 March 14, 2012

Strauss focusses on preparation

ESPNcricinfo staff
19

England captain Andrew Strauss is anticipating a tough test of his side in Sri Lanka but insists that they can take the heat.

England succumbed to a 3-0 Test series defeat against Pakistan in the UAE with a failure to adapt to the conditions and the Pakistan spinners seen as major factors in their downfall.

Strauss is expecting conditions in Sri Lanka to prove even tougher. While his batsmen are likely to be tested by spin once again, they now face the added problem of the high heat and humidity of Sri Lanka. Strauss takes comfort from the fact that his side know what to expect, however, with seven of the squad (Ian Bell, James Tredwell, Steven Davies, Monty Panesar, Samit Patel, Matt Prior and Strauss) who were not involved in the limited-overs section of the tour to the UAE, travelling to Sri Lanka early in order to practise and acclimatise under the watchful eye of Graham Gooch. The remainder of the squad joined them on March 10.

England now play two warm-up games, with the first - against the Sri Lanka Board XI - starting on Thursday and the two Test series starting on March 26.

"The conditions here are very different to Dubai," Strauss said. "There's a lot more humidity and the heat is much more of a factor for us out here. Some of us have been here a week now getting used to it and getting used to the challenges. For the guys who have been in England for a while it's the contrast more than anything that gets you.

"Hopefully once the Tests start we'll be very much on top of it. You need to have strategies in place because no matter what sport you're playing, in whatever part of the world, if you overheat then you're in trouble."

None of England's top six averaged more than 26 in the whitewash against Pakistan but Strauss believes the lessons from that contest have already been absorbed and also cautioned the batsmen at only focussing on the spin threat.

"Over the course of the last series we were forced to address a few issues," he said. "To a man, I think the guys did that and we saw some of the benefits in the one-day series.

"But it's important we're not transfixed by spin and concentrate all of our efforts on that. We need to be on the ball against the seamers in the first session of the match. In a lot of Test matches out here, the ball nibbles around a bit on the first day. We've got to make sure we leave no stone unturned so we're not surprised by anything on the pitch."

It is also an important tour for Strauss personally. He failed to score a Test century throughout 2011 and has only scored one in his last 46 innings. He did, however, make a half-century in his final innings of the series against Pakistan and feels a return to form is imminent.

"You always want to be in good form, you always want to lead from the front," Strauss said. "I was quite encouraged by how I started to play towards the end of the Pakistan series and I need to build on that in next couple of Tests. The one-day guys haven't had a lot of time off so I can come back in and add some real impetus and motivation to them having had a decent rest myself."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AdrianVanDenStael on March 15, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    @TheHoneymonster: Well, you may be right, but we can only guess at what Flower really felt at the time and what is being said with the benefit of hindsight. The parallel with India's tour to England is particularly relevant in that the current India coach used to be England's coach too, and during his time working with England winter after winter he used to get criticised for inadequately preparing touring squads. But when the team were victorious (e.g., in West Indies in 2004 and South Africa in 2004-5) the critics largely shut up; it's only when the team gets thrashed (as in Australia 2006-7 and in UAE 2012) that people start claiming "I told you so". I don't know if Flower like Fletcher is/was really the one to blame, but the evidence seems to be that whoever is organising these tours hasn't really learnt lessons which have been talked about for ten years, and so long as the team can pull off results occasionally, nothing is going to change.

  • zenboomerang on March 15, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    @yorkshirematt... Thanks mate :) ... Didn't realise that this series was so short... Yet Englad brought 4 spinners?... A bit confused!... Sad really & doesn't do much for England but thats cricket today :( ...

  • SDHM on March 15, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    AVDS - I hope you don't mind me typing that, it's a long 'un otherwise! - that's what they would say though, isn't it? India said the same thing at first about their preparation in England, but I'm sure they weren't happy with it. I read in a few places that Andy Flower especially wasn't happy with only two three-day games. Having said that, I think it was the lay-off beforehand that exacerbated it; two warm up games coming straight off the limited overs games in India for example, and it would have been less of a problem. And zenboomerang - there is no one day cricket on the tour! A shrewd move by Sri Lanka I think, depriving the current T20 champs a chance to play in their conditions before the World Cup there later in the year... it's certainly what I'd have done :P

  • RandyOZ on March 15, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    England were shown up for how good they truly are against Pakistan, and that is well below average. SL, while not as good as Pakistan, should put up a good fight and should win or draw the series.

  • RandyOZ on March 15, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Monty is outbowling Swann again, how embarassing. The talent truly is paper thin in England. The batting line up reminds me of a house of cards. Remove the bottom rung (Cook) and they all come tumbling down.

  • yorkshirematt on March 15, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    @zenboomerang There are no ODIs ot T20s just two tests.

  • JG2704 on March 15, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    @landl47 on (March 15 2012, 03:10 AM GMT) - Sorry , I don't mean to be argumentative but you say about them being underprepared. There was an article on this site about them doing a training camp somewhere on the SC. Then they play 2 warm up matches and batsmen 4-6 still look bad. Then after 2 tests (4 more inns) the batsmen still look no better.And then we get Flower after every test saying that lessons had been learnt etc and what happens - the same thing in the next test. I'm not sure what the problems were - maybe they were mentally psyched out and didn't deal with the pressure too well.Maybe it was the fact that for the first time in a while they were facing a decent bowling attack and could not deal with it. Also the bowlers were in the same boat re no 1st class cricket in that time and they did ok. I just got a little fed up with Flower's hollow words after every defeat

  • AdrianVanDenStael on March 15, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    @ landl47: there may be a point about England's preparation for the series against Pakistan, and it certainly seems to be one those close to the England camp are keen to mention as an excuse, but it is certainly a point only being made with the benefit of hindsight. Strauss and co. seemed very happy to have the press (including cricinfo) praising them for their 'meticulous' preparation prior to that series (principally on account of arranging that fixture against the Associates XI). @ voma: I wouldn't be so dismissive of the current Australia team; some people were also writing off Australia for 'years to come' in May 1989. While it may be true that Sri Lanka and particularly the current crop of Sri Lankan bowlers represent less of a threat, the lesson from the tour of UAE for England should be not to get so complacent again

  • zenboomerang on March 15, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    Glad to see Strauss is switching off from the heavy spin focus that seemed to mentally drain the Test team in UAE - too much self focus on weaknesses takes away from your strengths & batting style... The batters just need to get back into the groove & play sensible cricket...

  • zenboomerang on March 15, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    @landl47... Agree - Sri Lanka have some wonderful players but England must surely go in short favorites to win both the Tests & ODI's... T20 is more just luck on the day cricket & less about a well rounded cricket team... SL haven't the quality in strike pace bowlers, so like for Oz in SL it was a battle between our bowlers & their batters - same happened against India at home... Get your bowlers fired up & you should walk away with the series...

  • AdrianVanDenStael on March 15, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    @TheHoneymonster: Well, you may be right, but we can only guess at what Flower really felt at the time and what is being said with the benefit of hindsight. The parallel with India's tour to England is particularly relevant in that the current India coach used to be England's coach too, and during his time working with England winter after winter he used to get criticised for inadequately preparing touring squads. But when the team were victorious (e.g., in West Indies in 2004 and South Africa in 2004-5) the critics largely shut up; it's only when the team gets thrashed (as in Australia 2006-7 and in UAE 2012) that people start claiming "I told you so". I don't know if Flower like Fletcher is/was really the one to blame, but the evidence seems to be that whoever is organising these tours hasn't really learnt lessons which have been talked about for ten years, and so long as the team can pull off results occasionally, nothing is going to change.

  • zenboomerang on March 15, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    @yorkshirematt... Thanks mate :) ... Didn't realise that this series was so short... Yet Englad brought 4 spinners?... A bit confused!... Sad really & doesn't do much for England but thats cricket today :( ...

  • SDHM on March 15, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    AVDS - I hope you don't mind me typing that, it's a long 'un otherwise! - that's what they would say though, isn't it? India said the same thing at first about their preparation in England, but I'm sure they weren't happy with it. I read in a few places that Andy Flower especially wasn't happy with only two three-day games. Having said that, I think it was the lay-off beforehand that exacerbated it; two warm up games coming straight off the limited overs games in India for example, and it would have been less of a problem. And zenboomerang - there is no one day cricket on the tour! A shrewd move by Sri Lanka I think, depriving the current T20 champs a chance to play in their conditions before the World Cup there later in the year... it's certainly what I'd have done :P

  • RandyOZ on March 15, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    England were shown up for how good they truly are against Pakistan, and that is well below average. SL, while not as good as Pakistan, should put up a good fight and should win or draw the series.

  • RandyOZ on March 15, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Monty is outbowling Swann again, how embarassing. The talent truly is paper thin in England. The batting line up reminds me of a house of cards. Remove the bottom rung (Cook) and they all come tumbling down.

  • yorkshirematt on March 15, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    @zenboomerang There are no ODIs ot T20s just two tests.

  • JG2704 on March 15, 2012, 10:08 GMT

    @landl47 on (March 15 2012, 03:10 AM GMT) - Sorry , I don't mean to be argumentative but you say about them being underprepared. There was an article on this site about them doing a training camp somewhere on the SC. Then they play 2 warm up matches and batsmen 4-6 still look bad. Then after 2 tests (4 more inns) the batsmen still look no better.And then we get Flower after every test saying that lessons had been learnt etc and what happens - the same thing in the next test. I'm not sure what the problems were - maybe they were mentally psyched out and didn't deal with the pressure too well.Maybe it was the fact that for the first time in a while they were facing a decent bowling attack and could not deal with it. Also the bowlers were in the same boat re no 1st class cricket in that time and they did ok. I just got a little fed up with Flower's hollow words after every defeat

  • AdrianVanDenStael on March 15, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    @ landl47: there may be a point about England's preparation for the series against Pakistan, and it certainly seems to be one those close to the England camp are keen to mention as an excuse, but it is certainly a point only being made with the benefit of hindsight. Strauss and co. seemed very happy to have the press (including cricinfo) praising them for their 'meticulous' preparation prior to that series (principally on account of arranging that fixture against the Associates XI). @ voma: I wouldn't be so dismissive of the current Australia team; some people were also writing off Australia for 'years to come' in May 1989. While it may be true that Sri Lanka and particularly the current crop of Sri Lankan bowlers represent less of a threat, the lesson from the tour of UAE for England should be not to get so complacent again

  • zenboomerang on March 15, 2012, 9:17 GMT

    Glad to see Strauss is switching off from the heavy spin focus that seemed to mentally drain the Test team in UAE - too much self focus on weaknesses takes away from your strengths & batting style... The batters just need to get back into the groove & play sensible cricket...

  • zenboomerang on March 15, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    @landl47... Agree - Sri Lanka have some wonderful players but England must surely go in short favorites to win both the Tests & ODI's... T20 is more just luck on the day cricket & less about a well rounded cricket team... SL haven't the quality in strike pace bowlers, so like for Oz in SL it was a battle between our bowlers & their batters - same happened against India at home... Get your bowlers fired up & you should walk away with the series...

  • landl47 on March 15, 2012, 3:10 GMT

    England went into the Pakistan test series seriously undercooked. None of the players had played any first-class cricket in three months. most of them had played almost no cricket in sub-continental conditions and two warm-up games simply weren't enough. It was apparent as the tour went on that England got stronger and winning 6 out of the 7 shorter format games demonstrated the real comparison between the sides. Had England followed Australia's sensible example and scheduled the shorter games first, they would have been heavy favorites to win the tests. Hopefully on this tour England will be better prepared and Sri Lanka's bowling is nothing like as strong as Pakistan's. England will be very disappointed if they don't win this series.

  • on March 14, 2012, 22:14 GMT

    this should be a cake walk for Sri Lanka..As usual england seems like making a huge fuss before touring Sri Lanka..I hope SL batting order will end several careers of English fast bowlers as usual/..SL should have their last 2 series against Eng in SL ,3-0 if not for rain..

  • yorkshirematt on March 14, 2012, 21:58 GMT

    A little less conversation a little more action please Strauss.

  • JG2704 on March 14, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    @ms555 on (March 14 2012, 16:10 PM GMT) You are joking right ? Cook is and should be next in line. As for Bell I think they should play him at number 3. IMO , Bell is not the sort of batsmen that handles pressure all that well. I just wonder if it's any coincidence that Bell's best form over has been over the last year when batting after the likes of Cook,Trott and KP have got them under way. In Pak when these batsmen failed , Bell seemed absolutely shot. I think that if they continue to play him they should try him at number 3 and put Troot down the order as I reckon Trott is mentally stronger if England's batsmen above him again underperform with the bat

  • voma on March 14, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    Is it me , or do England seem to be playing almost every month now . England have probably the best bowling attack in world cricket , but at this rate . Not for long , its the batting thats the worry . Cook , Pieterson , Trott and Prior are the spine of the team . Its fortunate that home form keeps Strauss in the job . Anyway whatever happens , Australia wont be a problem for many years to come now

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on March 14, 2012, 17:41 GMT

    Why are we seeing another of these series where the away country turns up before the home team? Scheduling that has SL playing an extensive ODI series in Australia & then another in Asia before stepping off the plane straight into a Test match is insane. Reminiscent of the last Ashes series where Australia went from India into an ODI series with SL as preparation for a home Test series. A bit ridiculous when the away team is better acclimatised.

  • yorkshire-86 on March 14, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    The key point is going to be who replaced Morgan. Bopara is a proven failure, when he last visited SL he averaged nine including three DUCKS in a row. Patel is just a flat track bully, and his bowling wont be needed if Swann and Panesar are playing. That means Bresnan should play, a lower order of Prior/Bresnan/Broad/Swann/Anderson/Monty provides a frontline attack of 3 seamers/2 spinners and bats to nine - personally I think Prior and Bresnan are faar better batsmen than Bopara/Patel anyway so neglecting them for a bowling allrounder actually *strengthens* the batting. The other alternative is to play Prior as a specialist batsmen and bring in Davies as a w/k - Davies is a better batsman than the woeful Bopara anyway.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on March 14, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    Not only could Strauss 'personally' do with some runs in Test matches pretty soon, but he needs to be wary of being complacent about how far he is succeeding in 'getting used to the challenges' of Sri Lankan conditions. Although the most capped player in his team, Strauss is in the unusual position of having less experience of the location he is touring than almost any other member of his likely starting line up. Most of that side toured Sri Lanka in 2007 (and Jimmy Anderson did in 2003 as well), but Strauss was axed from that tour. It's ironic to reflect that he was axed from that tour after a run of Test form which was not as bad as his current run (he'd made three or four hundreds in his last 46 innings at the time that he was dropped), in favour of Ravi Bopara. Bopara, who is likely to play alongside him, nonetheless found conditions difficult and failed on that tour; perhaps if the selectors had sent Strauss on that tour he too might have failed and been discarded permanently

  • ms555 on March 14, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    Andrew Strauss should retiree.... Make Bell the captain

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  • ms555 on March 14, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    Andrew Strauss should retiree.... Make Bell the captain

  • AdrianVanDenStael on March 14, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    Not only could Strauss 'personally' do with some runs in Test matches pretty soon, but he needs to be wary of being complacent about how far he is succeeding in 'getting used to the challenges' of Sri Lankan conditions. Although the most capped player in his team, Strauss is in the unusual position of having less experience of the location he is touring than almost any other member of his likely starting line up. Most of that side toured Sri Lanka in 2007 (and Jimmy Anderson did in 2003 as well), but Strauss was axed from that tour. It's ironic to reflect that he was axed from that tour after a run of Test form which was not as bad as his current run (he'd made three or four hundreds in his last 46 innings at the time that he was dropped), in favour of Ravi Bopara. Bopara, who is likely to play alongside him, nonetheless found conditions difficult and failed on that tour; perhaps if the selectors had sent Strauss on that tour he too might have failed and been discarded permanently

  • yorkshire-86 on March 14, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    The key point is going to be who replaced Morgan. Bopara is a proven failure, when he last visited SL he averaged nine including three DUCKS in a row. Patel is just a flat track bully, and his bowling wont be needed if Swann and Panesar are playing. That means Bresnan should play, a lower order of Prior/Bresnan/Broad/Swann/Anderson/Monty provides a frontline attack of 3 seamers/2 spinners and bats to nine - personally I think Prior and Bresnan are faar better batsmen than Bopara/Patel anyway so neglecting them for a bowling allrounder actually *strengthens* the batting. The other alternative is to play Prior as a specialist batsmen and bring in Davies as a w/k - Davies is a better batsman than the woeful Bopara anyway.

  • Behind_the_bowlers_arm on March 14, 2012, 17:41 GMT

    Why are we seeing another of these series where the away country turns up before the home team? Scheduling that has SL playing an extensive ODI series in Australia & then another in Asia before stepping off the plane straight into a Test match is insane. Reminiscent of the last Ashes series where Australia went from India into an ODI series with SL as preparation for a home Test series. A bit ridiculous when the away team is better acclimatised.

  • voma on March 14, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    Is it me , or do England seem to be playing almost every month now . England have probably the best bowling attack in world cricket , but at this rate . Not for long , its the batting thats the worry . Cook , Pieterson , Trott and Prior are the spine of the team . Its fortunate that home form keeps Strauss in the job . Anyway whatever happens , Australia wont be a problem for many years to come now

  • JG2704 on March 14, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    @ms555 on (March 14 2012, 16:10 PM GMT) You are joking right ? Cook is and should be next in line. As for Bell I think they should play him at number 3. IMO , Bell is not the sort of batsmen that handles pressure all that well. I just wonder if it's any coincidence that Bell's best form over has been over the last year when batting after the likes of Cook,Trott and KP have got them under way. In Pak when these batsmen failed , Bell seemed absolutely shot. I think that if they continue to play him they should try him at number 3 and put Troot down the order as I reckon Trott is mentally stronger if England's batsmen above him again underperform with the bat

  • yorkshirematt on March 14, 2012, 21:58 GMT

    A little less conversation a little more action please Strauss.

  • on March 14, 2012, 22:14 GMT

    this should be a cake walk for Sri Lanka..As usual england seems like making a huge fuss before touring Sri Lanka..I hope SL batting order will end several careers of English fast bowlers as usual/..SL should have their last 2 series against Eng in SL ,3-0 if not for rain..

  • landl47 on March 15, 2012, 3:10 GMT

    England went into the Pakistan test series seriously undercooked. None of the players had played any first-class cricket in three months. most of them had played almost no cricket in sub-continental conditions and two warm-up games simply weren't enough. It was apparent as the tour went on that England got stronger and winning 6 out of the 7 shorter format games demonstrated the real comparison between the sides. Had England followed Australia's sensible example and scheduled the shorter games first, they would have been heavy favorites to win the tests. Hopefully on this tour England will be better prepared and Sri Lanka's bowling is nothing like as strong as Pakistan's. England will be very disappointed if they don't win this series.

  • zenboomerang on March 15, 2012, 9:15 GMT

    @landl47... Agree - Sri Lanka have some wonderful players but England must surely go in short favorites to win both the Tests & ODI's... T20 is more just luck on the day cricket & less about a well rounded cricket team... SL haven't the quality in strike pace bowlers, so like for Oz in SL it was a battle between our bowlers & their batters - same happened against India at home... Get your bowlers fired up & you should walk away with the series...