x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Under-fire Andrew Strauss to focus on series after first Test loss

England's woes against spin resurface as 75-run win for Sri Lanka casts doubts on the captain's future.

Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath finished with 12 wickets in the first Test.
Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath finished with 12 wickets in the first Test.

GALLE // Andrew Strauss accepts that the combination of bad results and modest form is putting pressure on his position as the England captain.

England lost the first Test in Sri Lanka by 75 runs today, compounding the series loss against Pakistan and making it four defeats from four this year.

Strauss is also struggling to make a major impact at the top of the order, with just one century in his last 48 innings and an average of 28.52 since he reached three figures in Brisbane 16 months ago.

His leadership has been instrumental in England's rise to No 1 in the Test rankings.

That position is under threat though and England will slip down if they suffer a 2-0 whitewash in the second and final Test of the series.

But he acknowledges that results, both personally and as a team, need to improve and is hoping they will do so in Colombo next week.

"I can understand [questions over my future] but it's not something I'm focusing on," he said after his side were dismissed for 264 on day four in Galle.

"It's not the sort of question I'm going to answer in the middle of a series. My focus is very much on winning the next game. It would be wrong of me to think anything else at this stage.

"I feel in good form but you're judged on your performances and I haven't performed well enough.

"My job in the side is to score runs, the same as any other batsman, and I haven't scored as many as I would have liked in the last 12 months or so. That's very frustrating but hopefully I'll put it right next week."

England lost this game for two main reasons - Mahela Jayawardene's error-assisted 180 in the first innings, followed by their own capitulation for 193 on day two. Sri Lanka's slow bowlers accounted for 18 of England's 20 wickets.

Strauss believes the side have made strides in recent weeks but knows they need to be shown on the pitch, not in the nets.

"I don't think you need to be a rocket scientist to work out where things have gone wrong. We haven't got scores on the board," he said.

"You're not going to win too many Test matches if that's the case. I thought we showed in the second innings that there's a lot of skill in our dressing room against spin bowling, but we didn't apply ourselves in the right manner in the first innings and that's obviously disappointing."

Jayawardene, Sri Lanka captain, led his team to a first win on home soil since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan, the spin legend.

It was Murali's nominated successor Rangana Herath who did most of the damage, taking six wickets in each innings and leaving Jayawardene pondering the tourists' struggles on turning tracks. "It's not just about spin bowling, but how you play in certain conditions," he said.

"It's about adapting and they have lost four in a row now in these kind of conditions against spinners, so maybe they do [have a problem]."

* Press Association