Straight bats fend off Aussie media's grenades

The traditional pre-Ashes war of words may be playing out behind the scenes as former Australia and England opponents air their patriotic views, but Andrew Strauss is having little of the verbal jousting.

During the 2009 Ashes, Strauss said Australia had lost their aura, sensing that the baggy-green buccaneers of old had given way to journeymen uncomfortable with the task of extending two decades of dominance. But he has no interest in re-engaging in Ashes theatrics.

"I'm not sure it's too wise to get involved in that matter again," Strauss said after landing in Perth yesterday to start an Ashes series that will define the legacy of his own captaincy and that of his opposite number, Ricky Ponting.

If Australia had lost their aura in 2009, where do they stand after losing three consecutive Tests for the first time in a lifetime? "The Australian side doesn't have the very experienced legendary players it once had but they have some very good players and at home they will be a very strong side," Strauss said. "For us to expect Australia to be any less competitive than they have been in every other series out here would be a bad way of playing things."

Strauss was poised, confident, full of good cheer and well-rehearsed words when he arrived. There was certainly no hint of Douglas Jardine's churlishness when he blazed the same trail 78 years earlier, albeit on the liner Orontes rather than Qantas flight 72. Asked for a team list before the first warm-up match at the WACA, Jardine put himself offside with the local press in 1932 when he responded: "What damned rot. We didn't come here to provide scoops for your bally paper."

There was no chance of a scoop with the South African-born, partly Australian-educated Strauss, playing the straightest of forward defensives to the grenades lobbed from the stragglers of the media. Strauss is in Australia to do one job only and while his methods may be less empire-threatening than his predecessor, he is barely less single-minded. Most revealingly, he was respectful but not daunted by Ashes history which suggests England must have an opening batsman and opening bowler producing superb performances for them to win in Australia.

The Chris Broad-Graham Dilley combination in 1986-87 and Geoff Boycott-John Snow in 1970-71 were the most recent confirmation of that theory, though Strauss had his own vision for the series. "I hope I can be that outstanding opening batsman, but actually I'm not sure that's the way to win out here," Strauss said. "I think when you're out here you can't afford any passengers in your side. You need all 11 to be performing and standing up at the right time.

"Our bowling unit has done well in England over the summer. The challenges here will be very different but one of the things I've liked about our bowling unit is that they've complemented each other quite well, so when it's turning Graeme Swann's been a great threat, when it's swinging Jimmy Anderson's been outstanding, and on wickets that have been a bit bouncier Steven Finn and Stuart Broad have done a good job.

"It's that balance, to be able to adapt to different situations in a game, that is more crucial than one or two players having great series. We're a prettytight unit, we don't rely on one or two players, all 11 guys have been putting their hands up from time to time."

Yet Australia have remedies for most unwanted visitors, and returning paceman Peter Siddle had no doubt about how to handle the latest pest. Siddle took 20 Ashes wickets in 2009 and, after breaking down with stress fractures nine months ago, is looking to hit 90mph on the comeback trail against Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 game here today.

"Pace – that's how we will put pressure on England," he said. "I hope we play four quicks in the First Test. It would be a good prospect to have a few blokes who can charge in and have a crack."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power