Strauss ready for backlash from Aussies
ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss has warned his charges to expect their toughest Ashes clash yet when the third Test gets under way on Thursday.
Last week’s victory at Lord’s has given England a 1-0 lead in the series and raised hopes that they could repeat the 2005 victory on home soil.
But Strauss, who confirmed Ian Bell will replace Kevin Pietersen at No4 in the batting, knows Australia will have revenge in mind at Edgbaston.
“We fully expect an Aussie backlash and we expect this Test to be harder than the other two we’ve played so far,” said Strauss.
“It’s exciting to be ahead in an Ashes series but we know that can change very quickly so if we’re not right on it then problems are right around the corner.”
Strauss said Bell’s return, at his home ground, was reward for the work the Warwickshire man has put in since being dropped by national selectors during the winter tour of the West Indies.
“We’re all excited for Belly, he got left out of the team but he’s worked very hard to get his place back,” he added. “He’s done a huge amount of work, not just on the field but off the field as well. He’s very hungry and we’re really excited to have him back in the team here.”
All-rounder Andrew Flintoff has been included in the 13-man squad despite ongoing knee trouble, but Strauss expects the all-rounder, who inspired England’s second Test win, will be fit.
“All the indications are that he’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll have to see how he goes in the next couple of days in practice, but at this stage we’re very confident and I’m sure he’ll be looking to build on his performance at Lord’s. He’s in constant contact with our medical team. When you’ve had as many injuries as he’s had you get an indication of how you’re feeling and everything we’ve heard so far is very positive.”