Strauss in confident mood
Andrew Strauss is optimistic England can claim a share of the series with victory in the final Test against West Indies.
Last Updated: 05/03/09 6:21pm
Andrew Strauss is optimistic England can claim a series-levelling victory in the fifth Test against West Indies, which starts in Trinidad on Friday.
England have held the Wisden Trophy for the last eight-and-a-half years but arrive for the series climax at the Queen's Park Oval 1-0 down and requiring a win to retain the silverware.
Strauss and his fellow tour selectors - James Whitaker and assistant coach Andy Flower - are contemplating making several changes to the XI that drew the fourth Test in Barbados.
Matt Prior returns from paternity leave to replace Tim Ambrose behind the stumps, any further alterations depend on whether four or five specialist bowlers are picked.
England's attack struggled to make an impact during the run-filled stalemate at the Kensington Oval, but the wicket at Queen's Park is sure to offer more assistance.
"There is definitely more of a case for five bowlers than there has been previously," Strauss said.
"That is definitely one option we are considering.
"The exact balance of that bowling attack is important, and also whether we have got enough batting capability to get the runs we need to win the game."
Victories have been conspicuous by their absence this winter and the lack of cutting edge is a concern in an Ashes year.
"From my point of view as captain I have to look at things starting from West Indies," Strauss added.
"We have had a lot of upheaval and change and we certainly wouldn't want to be going into this final Test match 1-0 down, there's no doubt about that.
"One bad session has meant we are in this situation and we have one more opportunity to salvage something out of the series.
"We've played good enough cricket to believe we can win this Test match and if we play at a similar level to how we played over the last two Test matches then we have a good chance."
Andrew Flintoff's latest fitness problem - a hip injury that has forced him to miss the final two games of the series - created England's selection dilemma.
They switched to a four-man attack in Barbados and came unstuck due to the true nature of the batting surface and would only retain that policy here if the combination of grassed areas and bare patches remain.
The uncertainty accounted for the lack of decisiveness in formulating the XI.
"Things aren't as settled as we would like them to be partly because of injuries - Andrew Flintoff going home was always going to create difficulties in selection and balance - but the only way you get a truly settled side is if you are playing good cricket and winning often," Strauss continued.
"The more consistently we play, the less reason there would be to change the side."
If a batsman does make way it will either be Owais Shah, who was promised a run in the side upon displacing Ian Bell in Antigua, or Ravi Bopara, a centurion in the draw last week.
One of the other quandaries facing the tourists is whether to unleash Danish-born fast bowler Amjad Khan for a Test debut in such a crucial contest.
"He has been impressive both here and in Abu Dhabi where we saw him previously," Strauss noted. "He is just one of these bowlers who is very hard to pick up what type of ball he is going to bowl.
"He has got quite a deceptive action and seems able to reverse swing it pretty well.
"Certainly in the two-day game in Barbados recently he got it through at good pace.
"In a way he is a bit of a surprise package, different to what a lot of our bowlers offer.
"But at the same time he is inexperienced and no-one can be really sure how he will react to Test cricket.
"Those are the options we are weighing up but I am excited by him because he does offer something different."
Strauss has shown a lot of faith in left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom, England's reigning player of the year, but a chronic Achilles injury means his retention in the side comes with a minor degree of risk.
"The medical staff feel that there hasn't been any deterioration from last week, so medically I don't think there is a massive problem," Strauss countered.
"Whether he can bowl quite at 100 percent or not is what we are not sure on and given he has spent so much time away from cricket every game he plays he should be getting better and better.
"You only get up to 100 percent by playing - that's something we need to factor in."
Both teams will wear black armbands during the match as a mark of respect for those that lost their lives in the Lahore terror attacks last Tuesday.