Strauss warns of job only half done – staying on topis the really difficult bit

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The Independent Online

England's victory could not have been much more comprehensive, the statement made in wresting away India's status as the world's best cricket team as emphatic as they could have imagined it might be.

Yet as he enjoyed the realisation that his team had achieved the goal of dethroning Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team with a day and a half to spare in this contest and a match to spare in an increasingly one-sided series, Andrew Strauss insisted that England will only truly be the best if they can stay there.

"It was a big goal of ours to be No 1 but just because the rankings say we are No 1 does not mean our job is over," he said. "The huge task ahead to stay there as it can go away as quickly as it arrived.

"We have always felt that to be truly No 1 it has to be slightly more prolonged.

"There will be stern tests for us ahead, especially away from home, there are other teams anxious to have this mantle and it would arrogant of ourselves to think everything now is going to be hunky dory. You have to make sure you don't sit there patting yourself on the back too much. But we are up for the challenge and the important thing is we take with us a lot of confidence."

Strauss denied that the ease with which England took away India's exhalted status questioned the worth of the ranking system.

"I don't actually know how the rankings are worked out but to get to No 1 you have to win a lot of cricket matches," he said. "But I think it is pretty hard to kid the system and India deserved to be No1 coming into this series.

"It may look like we have had three easy victories but two of them have been tough even if this one has been a bit easier.

"In the first two games we had to work very hard for our victories. This match we have dominated but in the first two there were times when it was very even or we were behind.

"But you have to back yourself to beat anyone if you want to be best in the world and we have achieved that by a lot of guys standing up and delivering when it mattered in important moments in the matches.

"It is often the case in cricket that you play as well as you are allowed to play. But you have to give credit to our bowling attack. They complement each other and hunt as a group and, if there are any weaknesses in the opposition, we would back ourselves to expose them."

It was Strauss's 19th win from 37 matches as captain but he rejected the notion that England's elevation to the best in the world should automatically confer on him the status of No 1 captain.

"There is no ranking of that kind out there but, even if there was, I would not be interested in it," he said. "My job has been made very easy by the players, the support staff and by Andy Flower as coach, and any achievements we have made as a side have been collective. The individuals have become almost secondary to that, whether it is me as captain, Alastair Cook with all his runs or Jimmy Anderson with his wickets."

The Indian captain Dhoni felt his side had to take defeat on the chin and respond to the challenge of winning back their place at the top.

"This was a case of a team being outplayed by the opposition with bat and ball but no one side owns the No 1 spot."

He would not comment on the suggestion that his players were stale from too much cricket and jumped to the defence of their coach, Duncan Fletcher, for whom humiliation came at the scene of one of his greatest triumph as England coach, when his team beat Australia here in 2005.

"Duncan has done well in the little time he has spent with us. He did his best to prepare us. It is just that England are a very good side and they have played better than us."