London: England captain Andrew Strauss insisted there would be no danger of his side relaxing now they had climbed to the top of the Test table and rid English cricket of its "laughing-stock" status.
England attained their long-term goal of being declared the world's number one Test and simultaneously clinched an unbeatable 3-0 lead in their four-match series against former ICC table-toppers India with a crushing innings and 242-run success in the third Test at Edgbaston last week.
They could be forgiven for easing up, as even the great Australia sides of the 1990s and 2000s sometimes did when a series was already won, in the fourth and final Test at The Oval, starting here on Thursday.
But Strauss, speaking to reporters at The Oval here on Wednesday, said he was confident England would avoid succumbing to 'dead-rubber syndrome'.
"There's always that danger of taking our foot off the gas, but I hope and expect that we won't fall into that trap," he told reporters.
Strauss cited the way England had won the fifth and final Test against Australia in Sydney by an innings in January, a victory achieved with the Ashes already retained after the tourists had gone 2-1 up in Melbourne, as an example of England's ruthlessness.
"I think we had a similar situation in Australia and reacted really well in Sydney," opening batsman Strauss explained.
"That's certainly what we're trying to do this week. I'm absolutely certain that India will want to finish the tour on a high note and we have to stop them doing that," Strauss said.
"Now is not a time to be satisfied with ourselves.
"There's so many challenges ahead for us as a side. There's the subcontinent this winter, there's South Africa coming over and then India in the winter after that followed by the World Test Championship."
If England beat India at The Oval they will have won as many Test matches -- 20 -- in the past two years as they did during the whole of the 1980s.
"I wasn't aware of that," said the 34-year-old Strauss, a childhood cricket fan in the 80s.
"English cricket's been through a long evolutionary cycle. Since the introduction of central contracts (a decade ago) the rate of improvement has gone up significantly.
"The days of English cricket being kind of a laughing stock have gone, hopefully for good.
"There was a feeling that we weren't getting the best out of our players because we've always had very good players in England, there's no doubt about that," Strauss said.
"Now I think the structure and the set up make it easier for us to get the best out of our players."
Once this series is over England, unusually, won't have another Test before Christmas, with the first of a winter programme where they face Pakistan and Sri Lanka, not until the new year.
That means Strauss, who no longer plays limited overs internationals, is set for a five-month break.
"It allows me to prepare myself properly for what's going to be a tough winter and to sit down with (England coach) Andy Flower and be clear and thorough in our planning for the subcontinent, which is not an area we've traditionally performed well in," he said.
Strauss denied suggestions he might fill his time by playing in Australian or South African first-class cricket.
"At this stage, playing in Australia or South Africa doesn't seem like the right preparation for playing in the subcontinent."