Toby Radford hoping to revive West Indies

West Indies
West Indies play a three-Test series in England this summer

As Andrew Strauss leads England on an overseas tour for the first time since they climbed to the top of the International Cricket Council's Test rankings, his troubles of 2007 seem a lifetime ago.

At that time, Strauss was battling to regain his place in a side that he has since led to two Ashes victories - the second of which was England's first down under for 24 years.

Without a century in his previous 19 Tests, the left-hander was left out of the squad to tour Sri Lanka and returned to his county to work with then-Middlesex coach Toby Radford.external-link

"I showed him some footage of the years previously when he'd been getting lots of runs and a couple of the technical things that I felt had changed," Radford told BBC Sport.

"With a player like him who knows his own game you have to sell the idea to him. Because of where he was at that point, he felt he could give it a go and we worked really hard that winter and it went really well."

The result for Strauss was a career-saving 177 against New Zealand in Napier when he was recalled to the England side in early 2008.

A year later, following the row between Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores, Strauss was appointed captain, and, since losing in the West Indies in his first tour in charge, England are now unbeaten in eight series.

"Over those winter months, we made the changes that started to get him on the road to the major success that he's had in the past few years," continued Radford.

"I think it's been a combination of that plus him developing his game from there. I think that was a real start to him getting confidence back."

Radford, who coached Middlesex to Twenty20 Cup success in 2008, has since been put in charge of setting up a high performance centre for the cream of West Indian talent.

After years of decline both on and off the pitch, it is hoped the facility in Barbados will breathe new life into Caribbean cricket.

"In the last decade or so, the people who would have been playing in the parks or on the beaches are now watching basketball from America, so the numbers of people playing cricket are not as high as they were," said Radford, a former England youth international.

"Everyone has a view on cricket - they know what is going on with the national side and they want it to win. But I think [lack of] numbers playing has been the problem.

"Now the West Indies Cricket Board is addressing that with these various initiatives and I'm hoping that all these investments will bring the results."

Those initiatives included setting up a "West Indian version of the England Lions",external-link which Radford took charge of before returning to England as a freelance batting coach.

A battling and impressive performance from Darren Sammy's side in India, albeit in a losing cause, would suggest Radford's efforts have started to reap rewards.

West Indies, likely to be without familiar names Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Bravo and Sulieman Benn, are now preparing to host the touring Australians before travelling to England in May and Radford hopes to see some of his latest students given the chance to trouble Strauss and his team.

"I'm going to be interested to see who they bring over," said the 40-year-old.

"There's a big, strong quick bowler from Trinidad called Shannon Gabriel, and he can bowl up around 90mph. He's raw but they might want to blood him on a tour of England.

"They also had a left-arm swing bowler called Delorn Johnson and I can see him coming because he would suit the conditions.

"The other thing they have is high-quality spinners. Veerasammy Permaul from Guyana is an exceptional left-armer.

"Batting-wise, there's Nkrumah Bonner, Devon Thomas and Kieran Powell. There's four or five of the High-Performance Centre team that we had who are really knocking on the door."

Depite his gratitude for the work that saved his England career, Strauss will be hoping the benefits of Radford's latest project do not have similarly swift results.

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