Strauss at ease as axe hovers over captaincy

ENGLAND cricket captain Andrew Strauss insists he is not feeling under any extra pressure to win today’s second Test in Sri Lanka, despite a dire run and his own dreadful form raising doubts about his future.

Last week’s 75-run defeat in Galle was England’s fourth consecutive Test loss and has heightened scrutiny of Strauss, who has made just one century in his last 48 first-class innings. But the opener, who has marshalled two successful Ashes campaigns, yesterday dismissed talk about his future as nothing more than a minor distraction from winning the final Test, which starts early this morning in Colombo.

“It hasn’t gone according to plan, certainly. We haven’t been as consistent as we’d like to be but we’ve got one final chance to salvage something from the winter to allow us to go into the summer with some momentum,” said Strauss. “[The captaincy] is not something I’ve considered. Going into this game, it’s really not something on my mind. People are always entitled to their opinions but I don’t necessarily share them.

“The pressure is no more than normal. I want to score some runs, there’s no doubt about that, but I’m very confident and I think we have the materials to do well in this Test.”

Defeat this week would knock England, who are without injured paceman Stuart Broad, off the top of the Test rankings, to be replaced by South Africa, who visit them for a three-Test series in July. Australia, so comprehensibly beaten in last winter’s Ashes series, could also overtake Strauss’s men – a fact not lost on their former captain Ricky Ponting.

“It goes to show we’re on the right track and that England might have been at the start of the end of their cycle,” Ponting said. “England have got a taste of it up there for a little bit and have started to struggle a bit in their last couple of series.”