Best still to come from English: Strauss

Perth (Australia): Having opened their Ashes tour with a remarkable win over Western Australia, England`s captain Andrew Strauss is confident his side will continue improving.

The English recovered from a seemingly hopeless position against WA to win by six wickets yesterday, with Strauss making a fine century, and next head to Adelaide to face South Australia in another three-day match starting Thursday.

The tourists then have a final warm-up clash against Australia A in a four-day game in Hobart before the first Test in Brisbane on November 25 as they attempt not only to retain the Ashes but to win their first series in Australia since 1986-87.

Strauss said he believed his top-order batsmen struggled to adapt to the conditions in the first innings here, when they slumped to 117-7, but showed immediate improvement in the second innings and he expects the trend to continue.

"None of us have played any cricket for a few weeks," he noted.

"It is about getting used to these conditions out here. They are different to England.”

"Our shot selection has to be slightly different. Balls you score off are slightly different and at times you`ve got to be patient, probably more patient than in England.”

"I learnt a few lessons here at the WACA. We are hopeful we`ll take that into Adelaide and hit the ground running there as well."

Strauss dismissed any concerns over his form of his deputy after Alastair Cook, who has a modest record against Australia with an average of 26.21 in 10 Tests, missed out twice against WA, making only nine and five.

"It is still early days, none of us have played cricket for a while," he said. "On this wicket in particular it was a big new ball wicket."

"No problems from our perspective. It is clearly important the batsmen spend as much time in the middle as possible before the first Test, but we have still got two games to go before that," Strauss said.

Strauss praised young pacemen Steven Finn as crucial to England`s last-day fightback against WA and said spinner Graeme Swann was already shaping as a key player in the Ashes.

"This wicket wasn`t conducive to spinners at all and he was still causing troubles," Strauss said of Swann.

"He has got great control now and he can bowl in a number of different ways.”

"The great thing about Swanny is he is always a threat and that is useful to have."

England took what many consider their full-strength side into the opening tour match, but Strauss said it was too early to predict a starting XI for the first Test.

"I think you can read into that what you will," he said of their line-up against WA.

"We are trying to give the majority of the people that we think are going to be playing in that first Test as much cricket as possible, but I wouldn`t be nailing this down as our Test 11 at this stage."

Bureau Report