'Captain Scrooge' Strauss enforces Christmas fast

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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss was happy to spend his Christmas Day playing "Captain Scrooge" to help give England the best possible chance of beating South Africa in the second Test.

Like the rest of his team, father-of-two Strauss had no intention of missing out on the traditions of Christmas Day. What was not going to happen, though, at England's team hotel was over-indulgence of any sort – on captain's orders.

"One of the things you've got to avoid is slipping too much into the Christmas spirit," Strauss warned.

After nets and a pre-match team meating this morning, Strauss was prepared for a little post-lunch leeway – before "game heads" were screwed back on.

"In the afternoon you can switch off – which you'd normally do before a Test match anyway," he said. "But then come evening time, you've got to switch your mind back on to what you've got to do the next day."

There was further cause for celebration within the England camp today, with Alastair Cook celebrating his 25th birthday and Luke Wright announcing to his team-mates he had become engaged.

Strauss accepts the rationed Christmas is not "ideal", but the stakes are high for England after their backs-to-the-wall defiance in the first Test.

"There are some hours where you can sit back and enjoy Christmas and watch the kids run around opening their presents," he added.

"But it's not the same festive cheer as it would be back in England – with a few bottles of red and a mid-afternoon snooze. "We've got to keep our minds on what we need to do."