Andrew Strauss calls for improvement

England captain Andrew Strauss has challenged his players to prove they are matchwinners in the absence of stars Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen.

Strauss' inexperienced side were trounced by Australia at Lord's on Saturday, a result which opened up a 4-0 scoreline and sealed the NatWest Series with three matches to play.

Both Flintoff and Pietersen are on courses of rehabilitation following surgery on knee and Achilles respectively.

Pietersen's earliest estimated comeback is for the tour of South Africa in November while Flintoff, who will mull over whether to sign a modest incremental contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board or effectively go freelance over the coming days, will spend the initial couple of months of recuperation in Dubai.

"It is always hard to be without your two best players but that's the reality we are in, it is not going to be changing for a while so other people have to stand up," said Strauss. "Hopefully when they do return we have got more potential matchwinners.

"In a good, functioning one-day team you have got matchwinners everywhere.

"The top six have all got to be capable of getting one-day international hundreds. And hundreds generally win you games.

"We are all capable of doing that but we haven't done it. Until someone does do it we are always going to find things a little bit difficult."

Strauss is adamant Australia are beatable but they have extended their dominance to 11 wins out of 14 meetings with their Ashes rivals during this limited-overs campaign.

Meanwhile, wicketkeeper Matt Prior has dismissed the notion he would benefit from a rest and wants to drum up some momentum for the Champions Trophy in the coming week.

Prior, 27, will get his downtime in October after opting out of Sussex's Champions League campaign.

"It was my decision and quite an easy one, to be honest," Prior said. "I gave it a few weeks' thought but you just look at the last winter we had and the breaks.

"Since getting back from the Caribbean on April 4 I reckon I've had less than 20 days in my own bed. So it's quite gruelling. I don't think people see that.

"Yes, we're playing at home, we're playing in England, but no Test match is at Hove, at the minute, so I'm always in Manchester, or Leeds, or Birmingham, or London.

"So in October that would be my three weeks to spend some time at home or get away with my family or do something.

"The other thing is to get some niggles out of the way, get them sorted, get fit, get strong again, and get ready for what is going to be another huge series against South Africa.

"I am very proud to play for Sussex and passionate about the club, but my priority is performing for England and I need to put myself in the best situation.

"I have to be a bit selfish about that and say that the best thing for me to perform well for my country is to have that break."

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