Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Strauss: Rookie Can Handle the Pressure

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Strauss: Rookie Can Handle the Pressure

Article excerpt

Byline: Sam Peters

NDREW STRAUSS handed debutant James Taylor a ringing endorsement to succeed where others have failed as England's shellshocked players prepare to try and save their No1 status.

The England captain confirmed on the eve of the all-important second Investec Test at Headingley that the diminutive 22-year-old will bat at No6 in the order following Ravi Bopara's surprise withdrawal on "personal grounds".

England have not been able to satisfactorily fill the position since Paul Collingwood's retirement as Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow and Matt Prior have all taken their turn to varying degrees of success.

With England 1-0 down in the threematch series and facing the demoralising prospect of handing over their position at the top of the world rankings should they lose to South Africa this week, the pressure on 5ft 5in Taylor will be intense.

But Strauss, whose own position as captain would inevitably come under the spotlight if England suffer a sixth Test defeat in 10 matches, insists Taylor has the credentials to succeed at the highest level.

"For a young guy he looks very organised and knows his game very well," Strauss said. "His temperament looks very solid. He has come into the Lions and always performed when he's played. That suggests he deals with a step up very well.

"He's a good character. You can see the way he holds himself that he has quite an old head on young shoulders.

"That's all the constituent parts you look for in a young player. Obviously it's a challenge for him coming in now but I think he's got every chance of doing really well."

Strauss and coach Andy Flower have been searching for answers over the past 10 days to explain their dismal performance at the Oval, where they suffered one of the most comprehensive defeats in Test match history. While the team hierarchy are eager to paint the innings and 12 run loss as nothing more than an aberration, there is a growing impression that England's players are struggling to sustain the hunger desired to stay at the top of the world game. It is not a notion Strauss is willing to entertain. …

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