IPL: Indian Premier League 2009

Strauss believes break will help Ashes bid


Andrew Strauss is eager to resume his day job after missing the tour of Bangladesh for a two-month break that he hopes will help England defend the Ashes in Australia next winter. Strauss controversially opted to miss the trip to the subcontinent and handed the reigns to Alastair Cook with a view to ensuring he won’t be burnt out by the time the squad head down under in November and then onto the World Cup.

However, he’ll have to wait a little longer to get his hands back on the tiller because, on the merry-go-round that is the England captaincy, Paul Collingwood will take charge for the World Twenty20 in West Indies before Strauss returns for the first Test, against Bangladesh, on May 27. Strauss’s decision to rest was criticised in many quarters, but when the move was announced at the end of the South Africa tour he was adamant it was the best thing for the team and has not changed his mind.

“I can understand because their argument that a captain should there all the time,” he said, “but as I said I think we have to look at ways of making the most out of the players we’ve got – both myself and others – and how to get the best out of our players when we need them. The Ashes is a huge series for us and the World Cup a huge one-day tournament for us and we need to be peaking there.

“This wasn’t a unilateral decision that I said I didn’t want to go to Bangladesh, it was something we have talked about for a couple of months. When you do something different there will always be criticism for it and I hope in time we’ll see the benefits. It was about winning two series which we did and me missing it was about prioritising the cricket we have ahead of us.”

England returned from the tour having secured a 3-0 one-day whitewash and 2-0 result in the Test series despite some tough resistance from Bangladesh. But there were times during the tour when Cook’s lack of captaincy experience was exposed, none more so than the second morning in Dhaka when the hosts’ tail added valuable runs.

However, although Strauss admitted he “wasn’t up at three every morning” to watch the Tests, he saw enough to be impressed by Cook’s leadership and believes he will benefit in the long-term. He also resisted any temptation to captain from afar and his communication with Cook was limited to a few text messages of congratulations.

“I think Alastair has done an excellent job, he has done things his own way, to an extent, which is fine, and he’s carried things on,” he said during a NatWest Cricket Force event in Middlesex. “You can’t argue with the fact they’ve won three one-dayers and two Tests which builds useful momentum for the season. I think it’s been a pretty steep learning curve for him but one from he’ll have benefited from immensely.

“Before he went I said you’ve got to do it your way to get benefit out of it and I think he’s done that. I had the odd text message when he’d done well, but it was his show and Andy Flower’s show and he can take credit for what he achieved.”

Everything for the England team this year is geared towards the Ashes defence and Strauss didn’t rule out resting other players during the season. Andy Flower has hinted that Stuart Broad would be the next in line for a break, while Collingwood’s workload may also be managed as he plays all three formats.

“I don’t know about that,” Strauss said. “We are going to have to see how the players are doing and what their state of mind is, but if there is an opportunity to rest one or two then we’ll be looking at that because we want the team in as good a frame of mind come the Ashes. But what games they miss and if indeed anyone does miss any cricket can only be decided when we get to those situations and sometimes it will depend on our position in a series.”

For Strauss, though, the focus for the next few weeks is Middlesex and he will pick up a bat for the first time in pre-season on Monday having been fortunate enough to miss the county’s boot-camp trip to an army training facility. Middlesex could benefit from Strauss’s presence for up to seven Championship matches and five 40-over games.

“It’s been nice to spend time with the family, but also in the gym and get some real improvement fitness-wise,” he said. “I’m chomping at the bit now to get out there and play.”

Source:Cricket News

Image Source: Cricinfo

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