Andrew Strauss: 'All I want is England to do well'

He says separate captains are not a problem as he looks to build on Cook's momentum for tour of Sri Lanka

Colombo

Nothing confuses the issue quite like an England cricket captain. That was Andrew Strauss down by the pool at the team's Colombo hotel yesterday, back in charge and sounding it.

He has returned to assume full control for the tour of Sri Lanka, which starts properly today with the first of two practice matches before a Test series also of two matches. By cricket standards it is whistle-stop stuff. The tourists will be home at Easter.

Strauss's last period in charge ended in a 3-0 drubbing by Pakistan in the Test series in the UAE last month. After that, England prevailed in both limited-overs series, first under Alastair Cook and then under Stuart Broad, respectively the one-day international and Twenty20 leaders. People begin to talk – though not, apparently in the team, where the feasibility of Strauss being undermined by the short-form minor success is treated as risible poppycock.

"It's a great thing, surely," said Strauss. "Honestly I don't understand the mind-set at all. It's not something that's bothered me. All I want is for the England team to do well. The reason we have separate captains is to allow us to each concentrate on one form of the game and really add some energy and motivation to that form. So far it's worked really well and I'm delighted for Cooky. It's fantastic. He's had a tough introduction to the one-day captaincy and it's great to see his batting and captaincy develop so well."

Actually, the reason England have three captains is because Strauss withdrew from both limited-overs versions of the game, first Twenty20 and then ODIs. Since Cook was seen almost as a like-for-like replacement in 50-over cricket but was deemed unsuitable for T20 necessity, as so often, was the mother of this particular invention.

If it is less of a hotch-potch so far than Heath Robinson might have concocted, there remains scope for all manner of cock-ups. The first priority is for Strauss to regain authentic Test form.

In taking England to No 1 in the world for the first time since rankings were introduced he has amassed lavish credit and is entitled to a bonus, in his case of unquestioned selection, rather more than the average bank executive. But he needs big runs, starting in this series. He has one hundred in 46 Test innings, in which span his average is only 33.

"I need and want to take the momentum Alastair has gained for us to help us move forward in the Test team," said Strauss. "We're all in this together. There are no egos at play here and I don't think people are out to undermine each other. We're all focused on the same thing which is England winning as many games as possible."

It has often been pointed out that the English cricket team is merely a reflection of the country as a whole so it was difficult to know whether to be reassured or not that everybody is in it together.

England will presumably play their probable team for the first Test in the first match against a Sri Lanka Board XI. The No 6 batting spot seems to be between Ravi Bopara, who has waited for his chance, and Samit Patel, who could only play as the second spinner in a five-man attack.

There is an element of controversy surrounding the tour, not all to do with cricket and the parlous state of Sri Lanka's finances. A Channel 4 documentary, Sri Lanka's Killing Fields: War Crimes Unpunished was aired last night and it has already caused consternation in the Indian parliament.

A sequel to an original film that was shown last year, the documentary asks why there has been as yet no action over alleged atrocities committed by government soldiers in the last days of the civil war, against the Tamil population. The film is as shocking and disturbing as any footage from recent wars and it is no accident that Channel 4 screened it to coincide with England's arrival.

To his credit, Strauss did not duck the question.

"It's a bit of a tricky one," he said. "All round us, we see atrocities taking place all over the world and in war a lot of unsavoury things happen on both sides. I personally think the political issues are best dealt with by the politicians and administrators.

"But that doesn't mean we should stick our heads in the sand. If the government feel there is cases to answer to a great enough extent that the England team shouldn't be touring somewhere then that is a call they need to make. Until that is the case, it would be wrong for us to focus on anything other than the cricket."

With respect, neither of the other captains could have dealt with such sense and sensibility. Strauss, of course, must stay.

Tour details

* Today-Saturday Board XI
R Premadasa Stadium (Colombo)

 

* 20-22 March Development Squad
Sinhalese Sports Ground (Colombo)

 

* 26-30 March 1st Test v Sri Lanka
Galle International Stadium (Galle)

 

* 3-7 April 2nd Test v Sri Lanka
P Sara Oval (Colombo)

 

* 18 April England depart Colombo

 

England probable team (for warm-up match v Board XI) A J Strauss, A N Cook, J Trott, K Pietersen, I R Bell, S R Patel, M J Prior, S C J Broad, G P Swann, S T Finn, J M Anderson.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital