Strauss warns of 'stern' Ashes Test after Windies rout
England captain Andrew Strauss told England to expect 'a very stern Test' when they faced Australia in this year's Ashes following their series trouncing of the West Indies.cricket Updated: May 19, 2009 20:17 IST
England captain Andrew Strauss told England to expect "a very stern Test" when they faced Australia in this year's Ashes following their series trouncing of the West Indies.
Strauss's side proved far too strong in home conditions for their opponents from the Caribbean and won the second of this two-Test campaign by an innings and 83 runs at the Riverside in England on Monday.
That gave England the series 2-0 after they'd won the first Test at Lord's by a crushing 10 wickets and saw them regain the Wisden Trophy they'd lost earlier this year in the Caribbean after a 1-0 reverse in a five-match series.
In a match where the whole of the second day was washed out, England made 569 for six declared with opener Alastair Cook's Test-best 160 the centrepiece of their total.
Man-of-the-series Ravi Bopara helped Essex team-mate Cook add 213 for the second wicket with an innings of 108 that followed his Test-best 143 at Lord's.
Lancashire swing bowler James Anderson, well supported by the rest of England's bowling attack, returned match figures of nine for 125 in a Test where the West Indies were made to follow-on.
"The real positive is how clinical we were," Strauss told reporters.
"Once we got on top, we stayed on top. By and large we took our chances," he added after England's first series win in their last four Test campaigns.
England won the last Ashes on English soil in 2005 only to be thrashed 5-0 in Australia the last time they met their oldest Test foes in 2006/07.
Strauss, who played in both series, was in no doubt about the scale of the task confronting England come July's first Test against Australia in Cardiff.
"When we step out in Cardiff, this means nothing, but from the team point of view it was nice to remember what it is like to win.
"Once we start the Ashes series, we are back to square one again," the opening batsman added. "This has got relevance but we can't just rely on the fact we've beaten the West Indies twice to carry us.
"The Ashes are going to be a very stern test for us," insisted Strauss, appointed England captain in January after Kevin Pietersen was stripped of the role following the South African-born batsman's falling-out with then coach Peter Moores.
Bopara, who has now scored hundreds in his last three Test innings and appears to have made England's problem position of No 3 his own, was delighted to have found form in the team's final Test series before the Ashes.
"When I came into this side I said I wanted to make a difference, I hope I did that in this series," Bopara said. "I'm glad it's been in the series before the Ashes. This is a stepping stone."
West Indies were only in England at this time of the season after Sri Lanka, England's scheduled opponents, pulled out because of their players' commitments in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Chris Gayle, the West Indies' captain who was criticised for turning up at Lord's two days before the first Test following a stint in the lucrative Twenty20 IPL tournament in South Africa, said he hoped his side could bounce back in the upcoming three one-dayers against England.
That series starts at Headingley on Thursday and opening batsman Gayle said: "Congratulations to Andrew Strauss and his team but hopefully we look to the one-day internationals now.
"Back home in the winter it was totally different but here we played some poor cricket, had some chances and didn't make the best of it."