London: England captain Andrew Strauss has insisted he has no desire to rid himself of the pressure of leadership despite a poor run of form with the bat. The Middlesex opener is all set to skipper England in the first of a three-Test series against the West Indies at his Lord's home ground on Thursday, with a record of just one hundred in his last 49 Test innings behind him.
However, the 35-year-old left-hander, England's Test captain since 2009, told reporters at Lord's here on Wednesday he was a long way from feeling 'fed up' with the job of leading the side. "Not even close," Strauss said. "There may be a situation where that has happened to England captains in the past and maybe it will to me in the future, but I'm not there at the moment yet. I'm excited about the challenges ahead, to come out at Lord's again, and hopefully we will all show what we're capable of this summer."
South Africa arrive later in the English season for what could be a clash for the number one Test ranking and Strauss said he was looking forward to making a major contribution in both campaigns. "The West Indies series is an important one for us and they're a vastly improved side, so it will be a big challenge. The big series against South Africa is round the corner as well so I'm really excited to get stuck in, hopefully score some runs myself and lead us in what we hope will be a successful summer," added Strauss, who led England to Ashes glory on home soil in 2009 and in Australia in 2010-11. "It's always a challenge as an opener to score runs. I've felt in reasonable form the last six months but 20s and 30s aren't what we're looking for. I will hopefully get stuck in and get runs for the lads."
Meanwhile West Indies captain Darren Sammy said he did not believe Strauss to be especially vulnerable. "I don't think it's the first time he has been under pressure and he's responded quite well in the past," Sammy said. "Pressure could make you crumble, pressure could make you rise above your expectations, and I know Strauss is a strong guy mentally. We are not only focusing on him."
England go into the series still ranked as the world's number one Test side but with question marks against them after a 3-0 series defeat by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates and a 1-1 draw away to Sri Lanka. "I think we're all quite excited about being back in our home conditions," said Strauss. "The winter was a challenge and we've learned some really valuable things for the future, but now it's about reconnecting with what we've done well in these conditions. We're a very confident side and we've got all bases covered in these conditions, but the challenge is to keep performing."