ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss claims the nature of yesterday’s crushing 319-run win over India that put his side within touching distance of being ranked the best Test side on the planet, showed why their stay at the summit is destined to be a lengthy one.
Set 478 to win after England’s tail wagged for the second time in the match, India succumbed to an onslaught of high quality pace bowling led by Tim Bresnan, who had earlier fallen 10 short of a maiden Test century in England’s total of 544 all out.
Such a convincing win, one that puts England 2-0 ahead in a four Test series which they must win by two clear matches to leapfrog India in the ICC rankings, looked unlikely at best when they were 124-8 on day one.
But the battling qualities exhibited by every member of his side gives Strauss confidence that England are here to stay as the world’s premier Test force.
He said: “One of the real measures of a good side is whether they are able to come back from difficult circumstances. Most sides are pretty good when they’ve got everything their own way.
“But in the last two Test matches we’ve had to dig pretty deep, and it gives me a lot of pride to see guys putting their hands up and delivering when it matters.
“It also fills me with a lot of confidence for the future that we can go on and become a better side.”
With India’s star-studded batting line-up, Rahul Dravid aside, woefully short of runs and a bowling attack stretched to breaking point, the prospect of an England whitewash looks a realistic outcome.
But the ever pragmatic Strauss knows India, who now have a eight days to regroup ahead of the Edgbaston Test, will come back fighting, desperate to show their pre-series billing was justified.
Asked whether his team would now be targeting a clean sweep against India, who have been ranked No1 since December 2009, Strauss said: “We don’t look at it like that. All we’re looking to do is turn up at Edgbaston to try to win that Test match.
“We’ve had to work very hard to win these two and we don’t expect any different from that.”
Hard work on the pitch is likely to be mirrored by equally strenuous tasks off it, with Strauss now facing a series of selection dilemmas following Bresnan’s masterclass with the ball.
The Yorkshireman finished with Test best figures of 5 for 48, while man of the match Stuart Broad picked up the key wicket of Dravid early on and James Anderson chipped in with a magic delivery to disturb VVS Laxman’s furniture, before Sachin Tendulkar’s rearguard action was ended on 56 when he padded up to the Lancastrian.
With Chris Tremlett, previously England’s most impressive bowler this summer, likely to be fit once more by the time the two teams meet again in Birmingham, Strauss now has the enviable conundrum of selecting from an embarrassment of riches.