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Strauss averse to become McGrath~~s 500th scalp

Published: Saturday, April 2, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London:England opening batsman Andrew Strauss is determined not to become Australia fast bowler Glenn McGrath's 500th Test wicket when the teams meet in July's Ashes series opener at Lord's in July.

McGrath, briefly a County colleague of Strauss's at Lord's-based Middlesex last year, currently has 499 Test wickets to his name and now appears destined to join the 500 club at the home of cricket.

The Aussie spearhead has made it a point of honour to dismiss England's leading batsman in recent Ashes series and with five hundreds in his first 12 Tests at an average of over 55, left-hander Strauss is undeniably near the top of McGrath's hit list.

"I am sure there will be a bit flying around, as there is with Australians, whether you are playing grade cricket or international cricket, it is pretty much always the same," said Strauss.

"I am really looking forward to the challenge, facing him, Shane Warne and the rest of the guys.

"International cricket is about testing yourself against the best," added Strauss. The prospect of that excites me. Glenn's a lovely guy but is very competitive on the field and a very good bowler.

"I am not thinking about what he is going to do to me too much. The important thing for me is to stick to my own game plan.

"But if I am his 500th wicket it would be quite an honour! Hopefully I have scored a few runs first.''

South Africa-born Strauss, who played his first cricket as a child in Melbourne where his family lived for 18 months, has faced the old enemy only once but cruised to an unbeaten half-century in a Champions Trophy semi-final victory at Edgbaston last September.

England's success at Test level over the past 12 months has lifted Michael Vaughan's team to second in the world rankings and raised expectation of a first Ashes win since 1986-87 - and that One-day victory will have given the team a degree of hope that they can at last stand up to the Aussie steamroller.

"We all felt very much up for that game, whether it was because it was Australia or just because it was the semi-finals of an important One-day competition I am not sure,'' added Strauss.

"But there has been so much history between England and Australia that it is hard not to feel part of a special game whenever you play against them.

"The important thing is obviously not to let the fact you are playing Australia effect you and not to play any differently to how you would normally; if you can do that you will have a good chance of doing well.

"We sat down in the dressing room and said we had nothing to lose, 'let's go out and enjoy it'.

"That is the way we played that game and I sincerely hope that is the way we look to play this summer.

"They are the best side in the world, they have proved that over and over again and I suppose the pressure is on them to keep performing like they have done.

"If we go out and enjoy ourselves and play our best cricket we can put them under pressure and get some good results.

"We have got to play our own game, as soon as you try to change to meet one side, you are playing into their hands because you are going away from what is natural to you."

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