England captain Andrew Strauss frustrated by winter struggles

 

England Test captain Andrew Strauss has expressed his frustration at having his players defend him following his lengthy run without a century and his team's poor form on the sub-continent.

Spinner Graeme Swann praised Strauss for his measured response to what he described as a "witch hunt" against the 35-year-old, whose position came into question for the first time in his three-year reign after the tourists lost their fourth straight Test in Galle to go 1-0 down in their series against Sri Lanka.

In an interview with former England skipper Michael Atherton in The Times, he said: "Well nobody is beyond criticism. I didn't feel, I don't feel, that the talk of me finishing after that game was right.

"I can't agree with that, but those are the things you have to deal with as an England player.

"I hate my players having to come out and defend me; as a captain you want to feel that you are one of the first names on the teamsheet, so that has been very frustrating. But I was so determined, and feel very determined to take the team further."

Strauss has not scored a Test century since the first Ashes Test in November 2010, but finished the tour on a positive note with a hard-working 61 in the first innings en route to a series-levelling eight-wicket win in Colombo earlier this month.

"What Colombo has taught me is how much gas there is left in the tank yet," he added. "No-one likes to be the topic of the month; it's not fun to feel that pressure.

"I had a long chat with [coach] Andy [Flower] and we agreed that sometimes when you become the focus it forces you to confront the problem. It shouldn't get to the stage where you need a jab to perform but it often does.

"There are countless examples of players who have timed their run late to re-establish their credentials."

PA

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