ANDREW Strauss insists his side will remain level-headed going into their series against South Africa despite suggestions they are a team on the rise following their Ashes victory.

Much is expected of England, especially in the aftermath of a busy summer that saw them emerge with a 2-1 win over Australia.

Strauss and his team held their first training session in Bloemfontein yesterday as they began the two-and-a-half-month tour, which starts with a 50-over warm-up game against the Diamond Eagles on Friday.

Although optimistic, the captain warned there was plenty of work still to be done in the build-up.

He said: “I don’t think any of us will get carried away or any of us have done.

“I think we’re all aware that at this stage of our development, we're not the genuine article, not the finished product by any means. So anyone who thinks that we might be going easy on ourselves at the moment is off the mark.

“At the same time, this challenge comes at a good time for us having just won the Ashes, we’ve got some confidence there.

“I think more than anything, (it has given us) confidence in our ability to pull out performances when we really need them. So we need to draw on that because this is a tough tour and if we can go on and win the series here, that’s going to be a massive achievement.”

England have a history of making poor starts to tours and Strauss agreed that the structure of this trip would help his side's cause.

After their opening match this week, they play two further warm-up games ahead of back-to-back Twenty20 internationals against the Proteas, the first of which is in Johannesburg on November 13.

They then play another practice match before a five-match one-day series. Another two tour matches are then followed by the first Test which starts on December 16, meaning there will be ample time to acclimatise.

Strauss continued: “To a certain extent, we’ll know the conditions well by the time the Tests start, which is something that people have always mentioned, a lack of practice matches. So that’s not going to be an excuse come the start of the Test series. But we still need to adapt well come the start of the one-day series.

“If you look in the past, we’ve had a number of times where we've started series poorly, both home and away.

“We've got a bit of a monkey off our back in England against the West Indies, but it’s something that we're very conscious of - the difficulty of coming back from behind.”