Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Andrew Strauss challenges IPL batsmen to rise to Test challenge

Andrew Strauss has challenged his IPL batsmen to prove they can switch from sloggers into battle-hardened Test men in the blink of an eye.

England's mammoth summer of cricket begins today at Lord's, and captain Strauss has his fingers crossed that Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, and Ravi Bopara can forget the IPL extravwithout aganza and remember what it takes to score a Test ton.

All three have only just returned from a stint in South Africa at the transplanted IPL and will try to prove that a lack of preparation and game time in English conditions won't get in the way of Test success.

"For the guys who've come in from the IPL to Test cricket their mindset the key," said Strauss, who is seeking payback against the West Indies after the series defeat in the Caribbean this winter.

"If they get that right then they'll perform well and at the moment it seems like they're in a good place.

"For the Twenty20 World Cup it was fantastic they were there, but for this Test series, it's important they put all that to the back of their minds and concentrate on what they are good at, Test cricket-wise.

"But they are all good experienced players and there is no reason why they can't do that. You don't want Test cricket to be devalued in any way, shape or form.

"There's a line there, and we certainly wouldn't want our players to be arriving two days before a Test."

Strauss was clearly giving West Indies captain Chris Gayle a nudge in the ribs for his 11th-hour arrival in England for the tour having stayed at the IPL to play in an extra match.

Gayle pitched up at Lord's on Monday having landed that morning to enjoy a blearyeyed net session which he claims did just the trick to get him ready for today's game.

Traditionalists will suggest his claims are nothing more than bravado, yet should he turn on the style at Lord's, then it will go a long way to prove the modern cricketer can have his cake and eat it.

Gayle said: "I'm good and I feel ready to go. Practising the day I got back wasn't difficult because you set your mind to do these things and it was good to have a hit and get a feel of everything so that I'll be ready for the game."

For Strauss the challenge this week is to bring an end to a rotten run of 14 series a win in the first Test match, and whether his men have been to the IPL or not he is demanding a ferocious start.

New head coach Andy Flower admitted in the Caribbean that it was a statistic that bothered him and he would be out to do things differently as a result.

The suggestion is that England players have been too relaxed before. Not this time if Strauss and Flower have anything to do with it.

Strauss added: "It is something we're mindful of and any thoughts of easing into the Test match summer, have to be avoided at all costs.

"A lot of that depends on our mindset and how we arrive at the ground in the morning and we want to put that record straight.

"We had good chats with the players and it looks like most of the guys have hit the ground running this season."

[the article was originally published at]

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