Strauss promises to `come to the party`

Southampton: England captain Andrew Strauss insisted he was determined to "come to the party" with the bat in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl. The 34-year-old left-handed opener, who made a hundred on his test debut, has managed just one century in his last 34 Test innings - 110 in the drawn Ashes opener against Australia in Brisbane in November.

And although England lead Sri Lanka 1-0 in this series, following an innings victory in the first Test in Cardiff, Strauss`s return has been a meagre 24 runs at an average of eight. In the drawn second Test at Lord`s, his Middlesex homeground, Strauss was twice lbw for four and nought to left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedara.

"I was frustrated with my returns at Lord`s," Strauss told reporters at the Rose Bowl here today -- the day before Hampshire`s headquarters makes its Test debut. "But that`s the nature of the beast as an opening batsman; sometimes you get a couple of good balls early. "I`m very comfortable with my own game and I`m very comfortable with us as a batting unit -- six out of seven were in fantastic fettle in the first two matches, now it`s my turn to come to the party, no doubt about that.

"I just have to make sure I do all I can to get back in the runs," added Strauss, who has a career average of nearly 43 in 84 Tests with 19 hundreds. "You can over-think these things but I have scored a lot of fifties without getting many hundreds and that`s something I am determined to change.

"It has been one of my strengths as an opening batsman, if you can get big hundreds it does set the side up pretty well and that`s the challenge for me." Strauss denied speculations that the pressures of captaincy were affecting his batting, saying: "You can over-analyse these things but I`m not going to fall into that trap. I just need to give myself the best chance of scoring runs."

England are set to welcome back James Anderson after the spearhead of their attack missed the second Test with a side strain. It appears Strauss`s Middlesex colleague Steven Finn will make way even though he took more wickets than the strugglingStuart Broad at Lord`s.

"You have to realise that sometimes one guy will get all the wickets when another guy bowls better, so you have to look a little bit beyond how many wickets a guy has taken," Strauss explained. "In some ways, the fact that our bowling performance was a little bit down at Lord`s is more of a reflection on how good it`s been over the last 18 months.

We need to improve on it, but also we need to be reasonably pragmatic about these things. Not every Test match is going to be perfect," added Strauss, whose side will go joint second in the ICC Test rankings alongside South Africa, with only India above them if they win at the Rose Bowl.

Bureau Report

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