England v Sri Lanka, Colombo, World Cup 2011
Strauss confident England can adjust
For the most part of this tournament, England have not been able to play to a plan, what with injuries, upsets and an illness forcing them to look think on their feet. They have failed twice, but have succeeded just enough number of times to have earned the right of to play Sri Lanka in the final quarter-final. On the eve of that match, Andrew Strauss spoke of the importance of not going in with too many set plans and the inspiration his side can draw from having survived despite potential disasters.
"We have shown a lot of resolve," Strauss said. "We have shown that we are able to stick together in close encounters, but you never know what this game is going to throw at you, and you have to be quick enough to adapt to whatever comes your way. Now is the time to play good, smart, intelligent cricket and ask questions of the opposition."
Strauss said that the way the rest of the squad has managed without the injured players has been heartening. "We have had to deal with that right from the end of the Ashes," he said. "We have had a lot of injuries, lot of people coming and going, and I think that tests out your resolve as a group, also the core of the side to be able to welcome other people in and make them feel part of the side and just as important member as the guy that has departed.
"That's something we are good at. But no one wants injuries. Not what you are looking for, it makes life harder for you, but you have got to manage the situation as the cards unfold. So far we have managed to deal with it reasonably well, hopefully we can do that in the rest of the World Cup."
England are waiting on Tim Bresnan's fitness, have decided on an opener but are not going to reveal him until toss, and have an important choice to make around James Anderson, who has lost form in the subcontinent. "He [Anderson] has freshened up to a certain extent," Strauss said. "He didn't play in the last game. He has had nine or 10 days away from cricket, and he certainly bowled very well to me in the nets the other day. Wasn't my best batting display of all time. He is definitely an option for this game. He has got a lot of experience, we know what a quality bowler he is, and to a certain extent it is more likely to swing here with the humidity than some of the other places in India."
Among other things, that they managed to win in the absence of their first-choice quick motivates Strauss. "We haven't always been able to rely on Plan A, so we have had to chop and change things a little bit," he said. "Ravi [Bopara] bowled quite a few overs in the last game when he hadn't really bowled much in the World Cup beforehand. James Tredwell came in. It gives me a lot of belief that you don't just have to look at the same two-three players to deliver for you."
Strauss was not a member of the side that won the ODI series 3-2 in Sri Lanka in 2007. He said that should not be a big handicap. "I have asked the guys who were involved how they went about with things," he said. "It's quite an interesting stuff they have come back with. The wickets here have been relaid since 2007, so it's hard to glean too much information about what happened there. Different lights too. I think in this circumstance you don't want to go into the game with too many predetermined plans. You have got to adapt well to whatever you encounter."
Staying true to their form in their first six games of the tournament, Strauss promised a close game. "It's been great that our games have been close, for the spectators. Hasn't been quite so great for us. We would have liked to win a lot easier than we have done.
"We take a lot of confidence from the fact that we have beaten the major sides and that holds us in good stead for this game. We don't know what drama is about to unfold. The likelihood is, as we saw the India-Australia game yesterday, it's going to be a tight game, and it's going to fluctuate on a couple of key performances. We have got to make sure that we are the guys who put up those performances."