Strauss 'astonished and then saddened'

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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss has spoken of his "astonishment" on hearing the allegations of corruption levelled at Pakistan's cricketers and insisted that he has never had any match-rigging concerns about the England team.

Strauss left Lord's on Saturday wondering how quickly his bowlers might take six more wickets to wrap up the final Test of the summer. But cricket tactics were the last thing on his mind a couple of hours later as he watched the news on television.

"First absolutely astonished and then pretty saddened," the England captain said when asked yesterday of his reaction. "There was no prior warning or anything like that.

"Not for one minute did we suspect anything was happening in the Test match. And they are only allegations at this stage. But when you sit there watching the news you do not expect to see your match as the leading item."

Despite not ducking a single question, Strauss – quite understandably – was unable to comment too fully on the corruption claims. But he happily shared his thoughts when asked about the honesty of the England team.

"All I will say from our point of view is that every single game of cricket I've played for England I have been 100 per cent sure that we have done everything we can to win that game of cricket. I am very comfortable saying that, but I cannot speak for other teams."

And Strauss is equally willing to support the idea of life bans for any player who is found guilty of rigging. "With a lot of these match-fixing allegations it is so hard to prove one way or another," he said. "But if someone is found categorically guilty of doing it then the only way for me is for you not to be able to play international cricket again."

While police and cricket's anti-corruption unit continue their investigations into the News of the World report, a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the series of Twenty20 and 50-over internationals must be made soon.

The first game is scheduled in Cardiff on Sunday but Strauss believes a little time should be allowed to pass before conclusions are reached. "I honestly believe the best thing to do is let the dust settle on this," he said. "It's all new and raw and it's easy to get quite emotional about things at the moment.

"Clearly the ICC, the ECB and the Pakistan Cricket Board must sit down and decide the best way forward. There are going to be some very strong reasons for the series to go ahead but they are going to have to think about what the right thing is."

Strauss also hopes, given time, that his players – especially man of the match Stuart Broad and man of the series Jonathan Trott – will be able to remember Lord's for their record-breaking stand of 332 and not the story that followed it.

"That was without doubt the best partnership I have seen by two England players and they shouldn't forget that," the captain said. "And I don't think they should believe for one minute it wasn't completely authentic. I think once the dust settles the guys will still be proud we won the Test match and the series convincingly."

England's next Test match will be in Australia in November. "I'm not absolutely happy with where the team is," Strauss admitted when asked about the Ashes series. "But we had to come back from tough situations in most of these Tests and we showed a huge amount of fight. That is going to stand us in good stead."

Lord's timeline: How England wrapped it up

11.00 To some people's surprise play begins. It had been thought that the allegations made against Pakistan might preclude their starting. The supporters in the Long Room clap politely as the batsmen walk through.

11.11 Azhar Ali chooses the wrong line to one from Graeme Swann holding its own.

11.16 Kamran Akmal, one of those mentioned, dabs Jimmy Anderson behind and is replaced by Mohammad Aamer, one of the bowlers alleged to be directly involved in bowling deliberate no-balls. There is no booing from the crowd, but muted applause.

11.21 Aamer, all at sea, is easily duped by Swann and bowled. Pakistan are 65 for 7.

11.26 Wahab Riaz is wicket number eight, hitting carelessly to midwicket.

11.59 Pakistan are one wicket from defeat as Saeed Ajmal takes a single ridiculous in the context of any game and is run out by Stuart Broad's direct hit.

12.08 Umar Akmal, batting with gay abandon, reaches 50 from 40 balls with his seventh four.

12.36 The match is at last put out of its misery when Mohammad Asif is caught at slip, a fact the requested review confirms. England have won by an innings and 225 runs and the series by 3-1 but they can barely raise a smile.