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?
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?