Andrew Strauss: Pakistan pose very strong challenge for England
Andrew Strauss expects a difficult Test series against Pakistan but Dave Fulton is backing England to continue their winning ways
Andrew Strauss believes Pakistan present a serious challenge to England’s dominance of the Test arena in the forthcoming series between the sides.
The squad flies out to the UAE today ahead of two warm-up games and three Test matches, with the first beginning on 17 January.
Speaking at a news conference at Heathrow Airport, Strauss accepted England have previously faced issues in the subcontinent, but said the squad is confident and revitalised after a two-month break.
“We’re all pretty refreshed, excited and ready to go,” he said. “We’re very aware that this tour in particular against Pakistan, who have played a lot of good cricket recently, is going to be a very strong challenge for us.”
Pakistan have been revitalised under the stewardship of Misbah-ul-Haq, who took over as captain from Salman Butt in October 2010.
Since then they have not lost a Test series, and won the last one at their adopted UAE home, against Sri Lanka last November.
Former Kent opening batsman, David Fulton, echoed Strauss’s sentiment but expects England to maintain their winning ways.
“They [England] should have too much, but Pakistan are a mercurial side who obviously have a bit to prove with everything that has happened over the last 12-18 months, so they will be dangerous,” he told The Sport Review.
“I don’t think England will go there underestimating them but it won’t be a stroll in the park and the next 12 months will define them as a side.”
As was the case with last October’s ODI tour of India, England’s batsmen will once again be under scrutiny in the sub-continental conditions.
In Saeed Ajmal, the hosts possess one of the world’s finest spin bowlers, and Umar Gul will undoubtedly pose a serious threat, especially when the ball begins to reverse-swing.
The last series between the two sides ended in controversial circumstances after the spot-fixing scandal was exposed, which eventually resulted in bans and jail sentences for Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.
But Fulton believes that if Pakistan can put this behind them and concentrate on playing cricket then they will continue to improve under Misbah’s captaincy.
“If Pakistan can get some sort of unity together in the wake of what has happened then they will be very keen to do things well with the talented players they have,” said Fulton.
“It will be a battle on the subcontinent pitches and I’m not sure what the atmosphere is going to be like at the grounds but I imagine the series will be a great spectacle.”
The series promises to be an exciting affair between two talented sides enjoying good form, but fans and players alike will be hoping this time the action happens solely on the pitch.