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Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 10:55 UK

Strauss targets top of rankings

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Strauss was overwhelmed by victory when speaking on Sunday

England captain Andrew Strauss has targeted leading his side to the top of the Test rankings following the 2-1 Ashes triumph over Australia.

England are now fifth, while Australia have dropped to fourth behind leaders South Africa and Sri Lanka, in second place, and third-placed India.

"Our next challenge is a massive one, away in South Africa," said Strauss.

"But we can take confidence from this and the long-term goal is to be the number one side in the world."

The England opener added: "It is going to take a lot of graft to get there.

"We are not number one in the world, and we are far from it, we are honest enough to know that.

To become the number one side in the world you have to be winning consistently home and away."

Strauss led the way against Australia in terms of playing at a high level of consistency and was rewarded with England's man of the series award.

Although others failed to follow his example, he feels he has the talent at his disposal to improve the England side's standing.

"We've got a young side and can get a lot better than we are at the moment," stated Strauss, who will have to make do without all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who has retired from Test cricket.

"We're still pretty inconsistent, as we've ably demonstrated in this series, but we've shown some guts and determination.

"For Stuart Broad to come back after a tough first two Test matches and bowl as well as he has says a lot for his character.

"Then there's the way Jonathan Trott came into this game. You look at it, and it astounds you - the biggest game in all our careers - and you add to that you're making a debut.

"To go out and play with as much composure as he did says a huge amount about him.

"In an Ashes series, there's nowhere to hide. If you've got any weaknesses they'll be exploited."

The managing director of England cricket, Hugh Morris, says he is delighted at the progress the side has made under captain Strauss and team director Andy Flower, who were appointed in the wake of the destabilising row and ultimate dismissal of former captain Kevin Pietersen and coach Peter Moores.

"I think we've come a long way over the last eight or nine months," added Morris. "The way Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower as team director have led the team and the team have responded, I think is fantastic, and I'm a very, very proud person to work with them.

Heroes return for victorious England

"I was lucky enough to be in the team hotel last night. You could just see the boys were absolutely elated with their performance."

Flower was happy with the progress that has been made since he first took charge as interim coach for the tour of the West Indies in February but warned that the victory represents only another stage in the development of this England side.

"I'm proud of our guys. They did a brilliant job over the series," said Flower.

"Were proud of what we've achieved but things move on quickly and there's no room for complacency in our side.

"We're number five in the world and there's a big gap between four and five so we need to bridge that divide.

"We're an inconsistent team but we want to find consistency. There are many areas we can improve on. When the dust settles we will review this series and be stronger for it."

National selector Geoff Miller believes the Ashes victory is just reward for sticking by certain players, particularly the younger members of the squad, despite spells of inconsistency during the series.

"It's always easy to gamble but we're not in the throes of gambling," said Miller. "We've set out the way we want to go forward - the word we use so often, and it's important now, is 'consistency'.

"We'll continue to do that. It's proved that is the way forward. The youngsters, when they feel they're secure and part of a unit, they start getting better and better and that augurs well for the future."

In the aftermath of the crushing defeat by an innings and 80 runs in the fourth Test at Headingley, there were calls for mass changes to the batting line-up, including a potential recall for 39-year-old Mark Ramprakash.

Trott was included at the expense of Ravi Bopara for the decider and Miller believes the 28-year-old South African-born batsman's second innings 119 stands as testimony to the selectors' decision.

"Jonathan Trott did really well for the Lions in the build-up to this - we knew the direction we wanted to go," revealed Miller.

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"Mark Ramprakash is a good player but we have to stick to the plans we've set out, so the players can feel confident they can go out there and perform without looking over their shoulder all the time."

Broad's 5-37 in the first innings at the Oval fully justified the selectors' faith in him but Miller warned against putting too much pressure on the 23-year-old, particularly in the wake of Andrew Flintoff's retirement. "It doesn't necessarily just fall on Stuart, we'll have to assess it," he commented.

"We know Fred [Flintoff] is not going to be part of our middle order but we're looking at players continually who can fit into that category and move on."

Miller says it is vital that England now continue to improve ahead of the side's next Test series in South Africa, which begins in November.

"We've got to make sure we're ready and up for South Africa but we have got to make sure we're playing good cricket prior to that as well," he stated.

"It's strength in depth and we're gradually getting there. It's all looking good for the future."



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see also
England celebration pictures
24 Aug 09 |  England
Ashes glory for survivor Strauss
24 Aug 09 |  England
Victorious England regain Ashes
23 Aug 09 |  England
Strauss savours famous Ashes win
23 Aug 09 |  England
Flintoff surgery brought forward
24 Aug 09 |  England
Cricket Australia backs Ponting
24 Aug 09 |  Australia
England v Australia photos
23 Aug 09 |  England
Ponting determined to bounce back
23 Aug 09 |  Australia
Jonathan Agnew column
23 Aug 09 |  England
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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