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March 29, 2012
Mark Nicholas : Failures will strengthen Strauss' resolve
Features : Herath joins small group
Report : Herath takes 12 in Sri Lanka's victory
Features : Trott ton trumped by Herath's ten
Matches: Sri Lanka v England at Galle
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Sri Lanka
Andrew Strauss retains the belief he can return to being a force in Test cricket despite again failing to convert two starts in Galle as England slumped to a fourth straight defeat.
Strauss contributed 26 and 27 in England's two innings during their 75-run loss but insisted he feels in good form. He hasn't scored a Test hundred since Brisbane at the start of the 2010-11 Ashes - now 16 Tests ago - and the pressure has been increased by the manner of his dismissals. In the first innings he tried to sweep a delivery that was too full and in the second whipped Rangana Herath to short midwicket when trying to go over the top.
"At the moment it is frustrating me as much as anyone," he said. "I'm hitting the ball nicely and feel in good form but you're judged on your performances and I've not performed well enough. Hopefully I will put it right next week.
"Sometimes it goes with the territory and you go through periods where you can't kick on for whatever reason and then you get through it, release a barrier and you get some big scores in a row."
Strauss is now 35 but strongly resisted suggestions that time was catching up with his batting. "If you keep getting to 30 then I don't think it is a terminal decline, unless you're very unfit, which I don't think is the case with me," he said. "My job in the side is to score runs and I haven't done that as much as I would have liked over the last 12 months or so, but I want to put it right next week."
He has only been dropped once during his Test career and that was when he missed the previous tour of Sri Lanka in 2007, having failed to recover from a difficult 2006-07 Ashes series. This time his position comes with the added weight of the captaincy but, understandably midway through a series, talk of his future was off the agenda.
"Questions about my position are just not something I'm going to answer in the middle of the series. My focus is very much on winning the next game and it would be wrong to think of anything else."
Collectively, too, England continue to struggle and have posted 300 just once in four Tests this year. Again it was the first innings that proved really costly, slumping to 192 and conceding a 125-run lead to Sri Lanka. Strauss wanted to offer up something positive after Jonathan Trott's second-innings hundred gave the team hope, but it wasn't an easy task.
"It is hard to say we're making progress having lost four in a row," he said. "I think individually people's gameplans against spin have come on but we haven't showed it out in the middle. If you want to win Test matches you need to get runs on the board and we haven't done that. In the fourth innings you can understand the odd dismissal but we had less of an excuse in our first innings."
Another potential headache is an injury to Stuart Broad who was suffering from a tight right calf on the fourth day. He was clearly limping during his brief second innings but England are waiting to do a further assessment.
Broad entered the Test having picked up an injury to his left ankle slipping on the boundary rope before the first warm-up match. He was passed as fully fit for the match but was slightly below his best, bowling eight no-balls - one of which cost England the wicket of Prasanna Jayawardene on the third day when Sri Lanka's lead was a slightly more manageable 292.
Edited by Alan Gardner
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala