Strauss stands firm as he leads England into the last chance saloon

Andrew Strauss accepts England have “one final chance” to salvage something from their winter programme but denies his captaincy is on a similar knife-edge. After the highs of last summer, when a 4-0 whitewash of India saw England reach the summit of the ICC’s Test rankings, 2012 has started in somewhat ignominious fashion. A 3-0 defeat against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates was followed by last week’s 75-run loss to Sri Lanka in Galle, and today’s second Test in Colombo presents their last opportunity to return to winning ways before the domestic summer.

Nobody has been subjected to more scrutiny in that period than Strauss, whose personal record of one century in his past 48 Test knocks has combined with the team’s recent wobble to create some awkward questions.

The 35-year-old, whose captaincy had hitherto been considered an unflinching success since he took over in January 2009, was asked about his position for the first time in the aftermath of the Galle defeat. The topic resurfaced at yesterday’s pre-match press conference, where a stony-faced Strauss was keen to emphasise the importance of the team’s fortunes instead of lingering on his own.

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“It hasn’t gone according to plan, certainly,” he said. “We haven’t been as consistent as we’d like to be but we’ve got one final chance to salvage something from the winter to allow us to go into the summer with some momentum. [The captaincy] is not something I’ve considered. People are always entitled to their opinions but I don’t necessarily share them.

“The pressure is no more than normal. I want to score some runs, but I’m very confident and I think we have the materials to do well in this Test. We’re very motivated to show that we can play a lot better.”

Strauss readily admitted that pressure was an inevitable part of the job. He also feels well equipped to confront it.

“When you play cricket for any length of time, you realise there will always be some story running in the background,” he said. “The most important thing is that you don’t let it distract you and you concentrate on what is important, which is getting your own game in order and making sure the rest of the team are in order as well.

“That is one of the real challenges of leadership or captaincy. When times are tough, that’s when it’s important you stand up and lead and show people the right direction.”

With Stuart Broad back home nursing a calf strain, England are set to recall both Steven Finn and Tim Bresnan, leaving Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel and Monty Panesar all vying for one place.