Image courtesy of: The Mirror
“England have had a lot of success against Australia since 2009 – it’s very much [been] one-way traffic”
In the 2010-11 Ashes series Andrew Strauss led England to a 3-1 win over Australia in the Land Down Under, but the former captain is not hestitating to predict the same scoreline when his successor, Alastair Cook, leads the national team into hostile territory next month.
Strauss is also confident of England making it four Ashes wins in a row, a feat which they have not accomplished since the 19th century.
“I think we crossed the fear barrier against Australia a long time ago,” Strauss told Sportsmail. “The more pertinent question is: Do Australia fear England? England have had a lot of success against Australia since 2009 – it’s very much [been] one-way traffic.
“The boot is on the other foot with this Australian side. Most of them have only experienced losing to England. So that’s a big mental barrier for them to overcome.”
However, Strauss also issued a word of caution to Cook and his men, stating that beating Australia at home is no walk in the park.
“It’s not an assignment for the faint-hearted,” he added. “‘If you look at how few teams have been able to go over there and win in the last 25 years or so, it’s extraordinary.”
From the time former England skipper Mike Gatting led the national team to victory against Australia in 1986-87, only the West Indies, on two occasions, South Africa, also on two occasions, and Strauss’ Ashes team have emerged victorious in the Land Down Under.
Strauss also noted that Australia will be looking for retribution after being humiliated 3-0 in the recent Ashes series in August.
“To win in Australia you need a lot of experienced cricketers,” he said. “It’s very hard to do with people who haven’t played a lot around the world because the conditions are very alien and unfamiliar.
“You need to be a winning side when you go there so that when things start going against you, which is bound to happen at some stage, you’re able to cope.
“You’ve got to have prepared yourself exceptionally well. Physically, you’ve got to be very fit. And you’ve got to be driven. You’ve got to be hungry and determined – not to win at all costs but to go to great lengths to make sure you do win.”
Strauss added that England’s opening pair should be wary of the fact that the Kookaburra ball does move and swing immensely in the first 10 to 15 overs.
“It’s one of the ironies,” Strauss said. “People always ask, ‘What’s your speech before the first Test of an Ashes series?’ And actually you’re just trying to calm everyone down, almost make it boring!
“You don’t want those great inspirational speeches then – it’s not the time for that.
“Alastair will be aware of that. He’s such an experienced cricketer now and there will be plenty of people there to support.”
One big question many pundits and former players have is whether left-arm spinner Monty Panesar will get a chance to play since Australia’s pitches are catered for pace bowlers.
Not only will this hinder the impact of off-spinner Graeme Swann, but Panesar’s chances of playing as well since England are highly likely to only include one spinner in the squad.
“As a captain, this is where you earn your dough,” Strauss said. “You have to make sure no one’s left to their own devices. The odd little two or three-minute conversation here and there about how things are going away from the pitch is more vital than anything.
“England have to be really conscious of being inclusive of Monty, bringing him back into the fold, having a sympathetic ear for him, to listen to what he’s been through and to help him through it. I’m sure Monty’s been doing a lot of work recently on overcoming the issues he’s had. Now’s not the time to stop. Everyone’s got to help him.”
Strauss finished off by saying that he still doesn’t believe Australia has what it takes to defeat England.
“It’s going to be close again,” he said. “But it’s those pivotal moments. Australia found themselves in a situation this summer of getting into a winning position but not being able to get over the line.
“Unless things change really rapidly, I can’t see that changing.
“And my gut feeling is they might start turning the corner after the Ashes, rather than before this series is out.”