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Strauss' side urged to prove they're No1.

Byline: ALAN EASEL

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss has challenged his side to keep improving, telling them: "Getting to number one in the rankings is nothing."

Strauss' men landed in Dubai yesterday ahead of a three-Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, their first since they ascended to the top of the ICC rankings with a whitewash of India last summer.

Pakistan have overcome the controversy of the spot-fixing scandal to play some impressive cricket of late, sealing Test series victories against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

It means England will have to be at their best in alien conditions if they are to maintain their position at the top of the tree, and Strauss is keen to ensure there is no complacency among his charges.

"The only way to ensure it is to make sure you're just as desperate to go on and improve as you were a year or two ago," Strauss (pictured) said.

"Getting to number one in the rankings is nothing, really. It's your name on a piece of paper, that's all it is.

"There's always a new challenge ahead of you, this one coming up against Pakistan is a very stern challenge, I think, and whenever an England side go to the subcontinent it's a challenge anyway because it requires a different set of skills to win out here.

"This particular challenge comes at a good time for us. We're confident, we've been playing a lot of good cricket recently. If we're at all complacent we'll come unstuck pretty quickly."

Indeed, the England one-day side were whitewashed by India in October, a chastening tour in which the only high point was a Twenty20 victory over their hosts.

England face two warm-up matches, the first of which, against an ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI, begins on Saturday, before the first Test gets under way on January 17.

CAPTION(S):

India batsman Rahul Dravid drives a shot past the leaping Ian Bell during England's whitewash of the tourists last summer
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Jan 4, 2012
Words:335
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