Andrew Strauss vows England will keep improving

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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss today vowed to keep making cricket fans’ dreams come true after England completed their 3-1 demolition of Australia.

England sealed their third innings victory of the tour — the first time that has happened to an Australia side in a single series — and Alastair Cook’s 766 runs earned him the Compton-Miller medal for the best player in the series.

Strauss, who together with his players will share a reported £1milion bonus pot, said: “It is a brilliant thing for English sport when we do well.

“It does give everyone a lift, certainly in the bleak mid-winter. It’s hard to appreciate what it’s like back in England. You get text messages from people saying ‘this is amazing’ and that they haven’t had any sleep for seven weeks.

“But people will now have high expectations of us, there is no doubt about that. We’re going to have to work very hard to live up to those expectations.”

Jimmy Anderson, with 24 wickets in the series, will be rested from the two Twenty20 matches and the first three matches of the one-day series. He will return to England for the second time, having jetted home on 7 December for the birth of daughter Ruby, and fly back to Australia on 22 January. Steve Finn will stay with the squad in his absence.

Fast bowling coach David Saker has also committed his future to

the England cause by signing a three-year contract extension, ruining hopes in his native Australia that he would return to assist their pacemen after this series.

Strauss added: “The majority of the side should be hitting their peak in the next couple of years, which is encouraging for us.

“The one hint of caution is that there will be tough times ahead. We won’t win by an innings every time and must keep striving to get better or other teams will pass us.”

Australia’s stand-in captain Michael Clarke has quit Twenty20 cricket to concentrate on the longer forms, with Cameron White replacing him as leader of that side. Neither chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch nor coach Tim Nielsen indicated they were considering resignation.

Tom Collomosse is the cricket correspondent for The Evening Standard.

England's successful Ashes captains down under since the war, by Alexander Penny

Sir Len Hutton (1954-55) 3-1

Prolific opener Hutton became the first England captain to retain the Ashes after victories in 1953 and 1954-55. Despite a poor series with the bat that yielded only 220 runs, the Yorkshireman won England their first Ashes series Down under since Douglas Jardine’s victorious tour of 1932-33.

Ray Illingworth (1970-71) 2-0

Illingworth is the only captain to have led a touring Ashes side to a series without defeat, and that came in the closely fought encounter where two victories came from seven Tests. Four draws and one abandonment saw the Yorkshireman’s side write themselves in to Wisden’s history books.

Mike Brearley (1978-79) 5-1

A one-sided affair saw England trounce the hosts with five resounding victories to back up the 3-0 success in the summer of 1977. What Brearley lacked in the batting department, a score of 53 his highest knock from 12 innings, he made up for as one of England’s finest Ashes captains.

Mike Gatting (1986-87) 2-1

Gatting marked his first overseas tour with a memorable victory over Australia. The right-hander followed up England’s 3-1 victory in 1985 with big wins in Brisbane and Melbourne, the latter by an innings. He scored 393 runs at an average of 43.66.

Andrew Strauss (2010-11) 3-1

Andrew Strauss picked up his second Ashes crown after regaining the coveted urn in 2009. The 33-year-old averaged 43.85 with one hundred and three half-centuries while inflicting a first innings defeat at home for Australia in 17 years with victory in Adelaide.