COLOMBO, (Reuters) – England captain Andrew Strauss, who has been under attack in the media for his lack of form with the bat, came out fighting on the eve of the second and final test against Sri Lanka.
The visitors have lost four tests in a row, having been whitewashed 3-0 by Pakistan in their previous series in the Middle East, and Strauss is without a test century since 2010.
“Obviously I want to score some runs,” the opening batsman told reporters on Monday. “One of the real challenges of leadership is that it is easy when it’s going well, everyone is buoyant and happy and patting each other on the back.
“But when times are tough that’s when it’s important you stand up and lead and shape your team in the right direction. I like that sort of challenge.”
England, beaten by 75 runs in the opening test in Galle last week, will lose their world number one ranking to South Africa if they are defeated again in Colombo.
“When you get to the last match and you need to win to get something out of the series, in that sense there’s a bit more on this game,” said Strauss.
“When you look at the last four tests we have played, there have been quite a few opportunities for us to win and there have been some outstanding individual performances.
“We have now got one final chance to salvage something out of the English winter and go into the summer with some momentum. I am very confident we have the ability and skill in our side to do that,” added Strauss.
“It hasn’t gone our way so far but I retain absolute faith in our players that they will turn it around.”
England’s bowlers have been firing on all cylinders against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and it is the batsmen who have let the side down with a series of indifferent displays.
All-rounder Stuart Broad will miss the second test because of an ankle injury and the visitors must decide whether paceman Steve Finn or seamer Tim Bresnan replaces him.
Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene said his side would not sit back to defend their 1-0 lead.
“We need to try and win the series 2-0,” he said. “Playing a team like England you have to be aggressive.
“You need to play to win from ball one and look to get in front of them. That’s what we will try to do.
“England are a very strong team and will come at us very strong tomorrow. We have to make sure we are prepared for that and play some really good cricket.”
Jayawardene hit 180 in the first innings but most of Sri Lanka’s top-order batsmen failed in the opening test.