England batsman Andrew Strauss is looking forward to playing international cricket in a more relaxed frame of mind after securing his place in the side with a Test-best 177 in the final match of the tour of New Zealand.
Strauss's hundred in Napier last month helped provide the platform from which England were able to go on and clinch a 121-run victory and with it a 2-1 series win.
It was the Middlesex left-hander's first Test century since August 2006 and came at a time when it was widely assumed he would be dropped from the England side unless he delivered a big score.
Strauss had been omitted from England's tour of Sri Lanka before Christmas and was then chosen ahead of Owais Shah for the New Zealand series despite having done little in the interim to suggest he should get the nod over his Middlesex team-mate.
But the 31-year-old Strauss, out for nought in the first innings at Napier, came good at the last and can now, injuries permitting, look forward to facing New Zealand again when the first Test gets underway at his Lord's home ground on May 15.
"The hundred gave me a fair amount of relief but more than anything a great deal of happiness to get a hundred and help England win the series," he told reporters at Lord's here Tuesday.
"I just felt I was contributing to the side again. It was a tough series and one we needed to win," said Strauss who, after 46 Tests, averages over 40 - widely regarded as the mark of a good Test batsman.
"Having won that, like myself, the team feels a little bit less pressurised and will play better cricket on the back of it.
"Life does go on and things that are important to you remain the same. That is a good realisation to come to, it was just a shame that I had to be dropped in order to realise that."
Strauss, who four years ago marked his Test debut by scoring a hundred against New Zealand at Lord's, scored heavily early in his England career but then, like many a batsman before him, endured a slump.
"There were so many ingredients I had to look at, not just whether I played the right shot or not. I was in the wrong mindset, no doubt about that. I had gone away from my game plan and tried to play shots I should not have done and that was a symptom of having a bad mindset," Strauss recalled.
The former Middlesex captain said the key to his revival had been a determination to enjoy his cricket once again.
"The one thing I was determined to do throughout the (New Zealand) series was not worry too much about what lay around the corner," explained Strauss, also welcomed back into the England fold for his slip-catching.
"I don't think I coped with the pressure last summer. I was very worried by the end of it about what might happen if I didn't get runs but then you get pretty negative about things.
"Now having got a century I feel less pressurised still and I think that will enable me to play better."