ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss believes his world-beating team’s famed resilience with both bat and ball allowed them to prevail in a tough first Test of the summer against West Indies.
Many predicted an easy home victory at Lord’s, as stage one of a landslide success in this threematch Investec series.
But after England appeared to take control over the first two days, on the back of Strauss’ first Test century in 18 months and man-of-thematch Stuart Broad’s career-best seven for 72 in the first innings, it all turned out to be a little bit closer than most expected.
There was still a degree of comfort as England got home on the final afternoon with five wickets to spare, thanks to half-centuries from Alastair Cook (79) and Ian Bell (63no) in pursuit of 191.
But the West Indies – batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul and strike bowler Kemar Roach in particular – hinted at the tourists’ increasing potential.
Certainly at 57 for four this morning, England had work to do.
“Whenever you’re chasing there’s a bit of pressure, so it was an outstanding effort from Cook and Bell,” said Strauss.
“They played in a very classy manner.
“It was getting a bit harder, but we had faith the wicket would stay flat and slow.
“Our plan was just to negotiate the new ball, and things would become more simple.
“That’s one of our real strengths as a side – a number of players play in different ways.
“It is reassuring – with Cook and Trott at the crease, and shot-players further down the innings.
“We all know Cook’s qualities, and I’m sure he’s pleased to see the boys home.”
And among the most pleasing aspects for Strauss, of course, was his own achievement – silencing detractors who were beginning to grow restless about the captain’s long quest for his 20th Test hundred.
“You don’t want to have to justify your place in the side as a captain.
“Thankfully that takes the monkey off my back, but I’m really conscious of the need to use that as a catalyst to have a really good summer.
“I hope this is a bit of a breakthrough mentally and allows me to stay fresher and go on and score some more hundreds in the rest of the games.”
They will include three Tests against South Africa, but not until England have finished with the Windies at Trent Bridge – starting on Friday – and then Edgbaston.