England captain Andrew Strauss has warned against the danger of complacency with England progressing successfully through the opening stages of their Ashes tour. England started their trip with a six-wicket win against Western Australia, and had the better of a drawn match against South Australia that ended on Saturday.
"The last thing we can do is get complacent and pat ourselves on the back, because we are ramping up our preparations," said Strauss. "The preparation has gone well so far. We've got one more game to up it a level before the Test match."
Strauss scored hundreds in both of England's warm-up games so far, his unbeaten 120 guiding England's second-innings chase at Perth. He shared in a 181-run opening stand in England's second innings against South Australia at the Adelaide Oval, with his partner Alastair Cook making 111 not out. Cook began the tour in unconvincing fashion with two single-figure scores against Western Australia, but the manner in which he bounced back to compile his hundred impressed Strauss.
"Everyone wants to get runs early in the tour, to settle down and get used to the conditions," said Strauss. "He batted exceptionally well. It wasn't just the fact he got runs, it was the way he did it. His foot movement was very good and his timing was crisp. He'll be feeling pretty good about himself, and that's good for the team."
Despite two impressive showings in the warm-ups, Strauss suggested that there were still certain areas - such as first-innings totals - that could be improved upon. "I think our batting could have gone better actually, certainly the first innings in both games. In Australia, you set up the match by how you bat in the first innings. We'll be looking for big first-innings scores, and we haven't done that quite as much as we should have done."
England slipped to 4 for 95 on the first day of their match against South Australia before they were steadied by a 131-run partnership between Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, and Strauss lauded both their performance and that of the bowling attack. "We didn't have it all our own way, losing four wickets quite early on the first morning - which wasn't ideal," he said. "But from that point onwards, we reacted very well. Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood played exceptionally well in the first innings.
"Our bowlers did a really top-quality job to bowl them out for 220 on a very flat wicket - and obviously we followed up with some good, positive cricket in the second half of the game."
Each member of England's four-man frontline bowling attack has contributed at some point during their preparatory matches, but certain players may well be rested for next week's match against Australia A in Tasmania in order to travel to Brisbane and acclimatise to the humid conditions there before the first Test. Strauss insisted, however, that such plans were yet to be finalised.
"The situation at the moment is that everyone is flying down to Hobart. Then we've got to decide what is the best preparation for those seam bowlers for Brisbane. We'll talk to them individually and then decide what the best bowling attack for that Australia A game is. There is definitely that option to send them up there to get acclimatised to the humidity - you can see the merits in that - but we haven't decided one way or another at this stage."
Australia's preparations for the first Test have been rather more troublesome than England's, as they crashed to a one-day series defeat against Sri Lanka and still face questions over the form and fitness of certain players. Strauss suggested that the discord in the hosts' camp could help England.
"We were quite clear about the majority of our Test XI before we got on the plane. But everyone likes stability and security, knowing where they stand. If that's not the case for Australia, then that could be a good thing for us."