Ashes victory trumps one-day humiliation says Andrew Strauss
A battered and bruised England flew out of Australia today with skipper Andrew Strauss certain their historic Ashes success had not been tarnished by the heavy one-day international series defeat.
England emphatically sealed the most coveted prize of their three-month tour Down Under when they beat Australia 3-1 in the Ashes.
It was the first time England had won the little urn in Australia for 24 years and they did so with three innings victories.
In the month since that success was sealed in Sydney, however, England have been on the wrong end of a thumping 6-1 one-day international series reverse.
The lop-sided result was partly attributable to a prohibitive run of injuries, with six players forced to leave the tour early during the protracted seven-match series, as the effects of a long tour took hold.
As a result England will limp back into Heathrow tomorrow and, with just a three-day turnaround before they are due to fly out for the World Cup, needing to quickly assess their injury woes.
But asked if the end to the tour had tarnished the Ashes memory, Strauss said: "I don't think so.
"They are two different forms of the game and that Ashes victory was incredibly special and one that we'll savour forever.
"You talk to people out there and they say 'great tour' even though we just lost 6-1.
"We're disappointed with the one-day results but we'll get onto that plane, certainly those who were involved in the Ashes, and be very happy with what we've achieved."
Strauss admitted after yesterday's tour-ending 57-run defeat to Australia in Perth that he would have plenty to ponder on the long flight home as he and team director Andy Flower gather themselves for a World Cup campaign.
Most concerning is England's long list of injuries - headed by middle-order batsman Eoin Morgan, who was due to see a specialist today about a fractured finger.
Morgan is a major doubt for the World Cup, which begins on February 19, after Strauss revealed the 24-year-old sustained a "substantial break" to the top of the middle finger on his left hand.
The left-hander's hopes of flying out with the team to the subcontinent on Saturday hinge on how long the tests he undergoes suggest he will be sidelined for.
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has been out for six weeks since he suffered a similar injury during the Ashes, and only returned to batting in the nets last week.
A similar timeframe would mean Morgan is unavailable for a large part of the six-week World Cup, although Strauss has hinted England may be willing to run a strategy where they retain a player who has become vital to their one-day success and unleash him in the latter stages.
That would represent a risky plan with a fitness cloud over six of the World Cup squad, including Tim Bresnan who is not expected to have recovered from a calf complaint in time for the opening match against Holland on February 22.
Also sidelined are Graeme Swann (back/knee), Ajmal Shahzad (hamstring), Paul Collingwood (back) and Stuart Broad (stomach) who are expected to be ready for the opening match in Nagpur.
Strauss and Flower are due to meet with the England selectors upon their arrival back in the country on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of calling replacements into their 15-man World Cup squad.
Strauss admitted he had already spoken to Flower about potential candidates to be drafted into the squad, but was reticent to name players until the results of Morgan's tests were known.
"We have (spoken about replacements), but we have to see what the specialist says first," he said.
"There's no point in thinking too far ahead if he is available. We'll be sitting down with the selectors when we get back to England."
Strauss also played down suggestions that the decision to bat Matt Prior down the order in yesterday's defeat at the WACA Ground represented a change in strategy ahead of the World Cup.
Prior was the surprise selection in England World Cup squad when he was selected ahead of fellow wicketkeeper Steven Davies and immediately promoted to the top of the order.
Prior has mixed success in the role in Australia, making 99 runs at 19.8, and batted at six yesterday after England's injury crisis forced them to turn to Davies, who opened the batting.
But Strauss said the move had been dictated only because of the match situation, saying: "It was just a way of accommodating Davies at the top of the order.
"Matt's a very versatile cricketer, he's batted at six a lot before so we felt he would find it easier coming in against the spinners in the middle than Steve.
"Steve has done the majority of his batting at the top of the order. It's just the way we felt was the best chance of winning the game."
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