Strauss calls on England to make a flying start

Home side must raise game to beat Pakistan says captain ahead of Trent Bridge opener
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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss admits England still have room for improvement as they bid for the series victory against Pakistan they will need if they are to set off for Australia with confidence intact. Strauss sees a potentially difficult four-match series against Salman Butt's tourists as an opportunity to continue a progression which began with last summer's wins over West Indies and in the Ashes.

"We're not necessarily where we want to be, but I think we're making improvements," said Strauss ahead of today's Trent Bridge opener. "My first series in charge we lost to West Indies, then beat West Indies and won the Ashes. I think there's a nice progression there – but there are areas we need to improve, no doubt about that. This Test series gives us an opportunity to do that."

England yesterday called up Tim Bresnan for Ajmal Shahzad after the latter aggravated an ankle injury. But Strauss could breathe a sigh of relief after key batsman Kevin Pietersen emerged unscathed when he fell over a football in warm-up yesterday.

Strauss's side will have to defy a Pakistani bowling attack which saw off Australia for only 88 in helpful conditions in the first innings at Headingley last week. The England captain concedes similar weather is likely to prevail, and therefore assist both teams' pace attacks this week.

"It's a ground where generally the ball swings around," he said. "It does depend on the overhead conditions, but I think both attacks are going to be looking at that and hoping to be making early inroads. It's important we react better than the Pakistanis."