Strauss 'has Pietersen's support'

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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss insists he can work with predecessor Kevin Pietersen after taking over the England captaincy.

Strauss is confident he has the full backing of Pietersen who stepped down yesterday in the wake of his row with coach Peter Moores.

Moores was sacked by the England and Wales Cricket Board following fevered speculation about his worsening relationship with Pietersen.

Pietersen has vowed to play on despite resigning as captain and Strauss is adamant the pair will be able to work together.

"I've spoken to Kevin a couple of times already," said Strauss.

"He's in a very tough situation, he's got some stuff to deal with at the moment.

"I know him well, he's a good mate. He said he will support me and I believe he will.

"I'm sure he has his own side of the story. I believe he did what he felt was in the best interest of the England team. I've got no problems with him as a player.

"It is vitally important we can get the best out of him as a player and I believe I can work with him.

"KP is a very strong-willed person and that was one of his greatest strengths as England captain.

"He had a vision for English cricket and he backed himself to do that and wasn't bothered about upsetting people along the way.

"I do feel sympathy for him. I think he felt he was doing what was right for the team.

"However you don't know how many felt the same way as he did but that's what his view was.

"He believed it was the right thing to do and I don't think he should be vilified for that."

Pietersen resigned as captain in the wake of allegations he had lost the support of a dressing room that had become divided over his confrontation with Moores.

But Strauss denied the rifts inside the England camp were as deep as had been alleged but was aware the situation needed to be addressed.

"You believe the rifts in the dressing room are greater than they are," declared Strauss.

"From the points of view of some players and some of the management, we need to get it sorted out.

"I've got some conversations with some players and I'll happily do that over the next week and move forward.

"It was clear you need a captain and coach in a good working relationship, that is the crux.

"No-one wanted to come to this situation but we have to move on from here.

"When a full-time coach is selected it is important I sit down and discuss what my views are of the team going forward and I've got some strong views on that.

"The key is to have a united front and support each other. My experience of the dressing room is that they have always that got on well and I don't think anything has happened to change that .

"We've got strong characters and you want that. My job is to manage them and make we're sure going in the right direction together. With the characters in the team I believe strongly we can do that."

However, the new England captain did express sympathy for sacked coach Moores, whose relationship with Pietersen began to suffer during their recent Indian tour.

"Peter Moores put a huge amount of effort and enthusiasm into taking the team forward," said Strauss.

"No-one likes to see things end in this manner. He's shown a lot of integrity and I don't think he deserves to go out in this fashion.

"At the back end of the India tour there were signs that they weren't getting on as well as they could.

"But you've got to remember that as cricketers we were concentrating on playing and going back after the terrorist attacks. So there was a lot on our minds.

"Certainly there weren't signs that the relationship was as strained as has been said."

Strauss contacted Pietersen after being asked to take over by the ECB but firmly believes he is the right man for the job at the present time.

"I had to think about the captaincy carefully, the ECB came to me yesterday and asked if I would be interested in the job if KP was not to carry on," said Strauss.

"I believe I can do the job and believe I am the right person to do the job at this stage, it is important there is leadership at the moment.

"It was important I spoke to KP about the reasons I took the job."