Strauss: Time to bounce back
England captain Andrew Strauss admits his side have a 'point to prove' when they face Sri Lanka in the first Test in Galle on Monday.
Last Updated: 25/03/12 2:40pm
England captain Andrew Strauss admits his side have a 'point to prove' when they face Sri Lanka in the first Test.
The tourists will take to the field in Galle on Monday with memories still fresh from their surprise 3-0 humbling by Pakistan in the middle east earlier this year.
And with their number one Test ranking under threat from South Africa - who tour England this summer - Strauss is looking for a response from his men.
"I think we've obviously got a point to prove," Strauss said. "We have to bounce back after those results against Pakistan."
Strauss, asked if the number one ranking was justified, insisted he preferred to concentrate on the job at hand.
"We are not focusing on the world rankings at the moment, it is not of great consequence to us," he added.
"I think if you focus too much on that, you take out what's important - which is trying to win. We know the extent of the challenge. We've got to be very good to overcome those challenges.
"There is plenty for us to focus on and the rankings will take care of themselves."
England's failure to adjust to spin-friendly wickets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi raised questions about their ability to win away from seamer-friendly conditions.
The slow, turning wickets in Sri Lanka will offer a similar challenge, compounded by heat and humidity.
All the top-order batsmen except Ian Bell have got among the runs in the two warm-up matches. But despite Bell's slump in form - he has managed just 25 runs in three innings on the tour so far - Strauss is more concerned about the inability of all-rounder Ravi Bopara to bowl in the series due to a side strain.
"The fact that Ravi can't bowl is something we have to take into consideration while finalising the side," Strauss said.
"He is a quite a useful seam bowler. But we won't be having that luxury here and we need to think about it."
England must decide whether to include Bopara as a specialist batsman, or play either left-arm spinner Samit Patel or seamer Tim Bresnan.
Nevertheless, Strauss is approaching the opener to the two-Test series with confidence. "The history of the wicket is that it deteriorates at the back-end a little bit, but I don't think there are any massive demons in it. Besides, we have two of the best spinners in the world."
England have not won a series in Sri Lanka since 2001, when Nasser Hussain's side fought back after losing the first Test to win 2-1. In 2003 and 2007 the hosts won both three-Test series by 1-0 margins.
England (from): A Strauss (c), J Anderson, I Bell, R Bopara, T Bresnan, S Broad, A Cook, S Finn, M Panesar, S Patel, K Pietersen, M Prior (wkt), G Swann, J Trott.
Sri Lanka (from): M Jayawardene (c), T Samaraweera, D Chandimal, T Dilshan, R Herath, P Jayawardene (wkt), S Randiv, S Lakmal, T Paranavitana, D Prasad, K Sangakkara, C Silva, L Thirimanne, C Welegedera.