Andrew Strauss says England have ‘some vulnerabilities’ going into this winter’s Ashes series, but also hinted that Australia have weaknesses of their own to be exploited.
With England’s squad for the trip to Australia in November set to be announced next week, director of cricket Strauss admitted that the team does not exactly pick itself at this point.
“I’d be lying if I said we’re going to Australia with absolute clarity on what our best XI is,” the former opening batsman said.
“We’re just not in that position at the moment.
“The reality is there are two teams up against each other with really strong assets and some vulnerabilities. Our challenge is to start the tour well.”
One of England’s strongest assets is certain to be captain Joe Root, who has been in scintillating form of late, and Strauss has been impressed with how he has handled the captaincy.
“He started brilliantly. He’s shown that he is very much his own man, he’s got his own way of thinking about the game and that will stand him in very good stead in Australia.”
Strauss, who managed 21 centuries in his 100 Test matches, has experienced both victory and defeat in the Ashes, and says the tour is the toughest task an England captain can face.
“It’s the biggest challenge an England captain will ever have.
“You are living in this incredible bubble for a long period of time, and everything is directed towards you in terms of being responsible for what’s happening on the pitch.
“But also the conditions in Australia are very changeable from one venue to another, to different periods in the game, and you need to adapt to those conditions you see in front of you.”
Another strength for this England team will be opening batsman Mark Stoneman, according to previous captain Alastair Cook.
Cook has struggled to find an opening partner since the retirement of Strauss five years ago, with 11 plyers having tried to take up the mantle, but Cook reckons Stoneman has what it takes.
He has recorded 120 runs in his five innings so far for England, and Cook said: “I like Rocky. I think Rocky’s slightly different. He’s a bit older, he’s seen a lot more.
“And the big move for him was coming down to Surrey. Four years of a thousand runs or more at Durham.
“Coming down to Surrey on a big money move – if that makes sense in cricket – straight away, he delivered.
“He’s ready. I think he’s going to be good.”