Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Cricket: Strauss aiming for more glory

England captain Andrew Strauss has challenged his side to keep improving, telling them: “Getting to number one in the rankings is nothing.”

Strauss' men have just landed in Dubai ahead of a three-Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, which will be their first since they ascended to the top of the ICC rankings with a whitewash of India last summer.

Pakistan have overcome the controversy of the spot-fixing scandal to play some impressive cricket of late, sealing Test series victories against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

It means England will have to be at their best in alien conditions if they are to maintain their position at the top of the tree, and Strauss is keen to ensure there is no complacency among his charges.

“The only way to ensure it is to make sure you're just as desperate to go on and improve as you were a year or two ago,” he said.

“Getting to number one in the rankings is nothing, really. It's your name on a piece of paper, that's all it is.

“There's always a new challenge ahead of you, this one coming up against Pakistan is a very stern challenge, I think, and whenever an England side go to the subcontinent it's a challenge anyway because it requires a different set of skills to win out here.

“This particular challenge comes at a good time for us. We're confident, we've been playing a lot of good cricket recently.

“If we're at all complacent we'll come unstuck pretty quickly.”

England face two warm-up matches, the first of which, against an ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI, captained by William Porterfield and including Ireland team-mates Kevin O’Brien, George Dockrell and Boyd Rankin, begins on Saturday, before the first Test gets under way on January 17.

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The one element missing from James Pattinson's man of the match performance in Australia's heartening first Test victory over India was the prize wicket of Sachin Tendulkar.

Australia's bright young thing put that right on the first day of the second Test in Sydney yesterday when Tendulkar, who had averaged over 200 at the Sydney Cricket Ground, dragged a wide delivery from Pattinson onto his stumps having made 41.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's captain, top scored with an unbeaten 57 but it was another poor day for the tourists, who have lost their last five Tests matches on the road. Their total of 191 followed first Test totals of 169 and 282 for a fading batting line-up that is failing to live up to a stellar reputation.

Duncan Fletcher, India's coach claimed: “They're putting in the effort, they're trying their best,” he said of a batting order that saw the top five total just 78 runs. “It's just sometimes in cricket we just need a little bit of good fortune.

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