Strauss refuses to show hand

England captain silent on selection ahead of first one-dayer against West Indies

In a display of secrecy which would have brought approval from MI6 and the CIA, England declined to reveal their team yesterday. Presumably, they will hand over the sheet containing 11 names to the match referee, Javagal Srinath, before the first one-day international today but it is not a cast-iron certainty.

To judge from the mood of the captain, Andrew Strauss, yesterday, he might turn up for the toss at Providence Stadium and say: "Look, sorry, Javagal, but we don't want the oppo to know who's playing, so would you mind awfully for once if we didn't tell you?"

Strauss politely refused to engage on such topics as: where he would bat on his return to one-day international cricket after two years, which pair would open the batting and who would be wicketkeeper. Asked if Kevin Pietersen would play, he said: "We'll see on Friday morning."

The captain sounded as if he was joking but it was clear that England are in such a desperate state that they will seize any possible perceived advantage. Asked if he thought Chris Gayle, the West Indies captain, would be remotely bothered about who was and was not in the beleaguered tourists' side, Strauss was moved to say: "I don't care if he doesn't care."

The only unequivocal evidence Strauss was prepared to impart was that he would be fit to play, though his strained right hamstring was still strapped and he had batted with a runner in the team's practice match the previous day ("only as precaution").

Strauss was slightly less forthcoming than his predecessor, Pietersen, who was interviewed by Nasser Hussain for Sky Sports yesterday and reiterated his reluctance to be captain again.

"I'd have to think long and hard about doing it again because of my personality, because of the way I like to do things," he told Hussain in the interview to be broadcast before the match today. "We'll have to wait and see. If it gets chucked at me, I'll have to do a lot more thinking than the first time I took it over."

But he ruled himself out of the captaincy of the Twenty20 team in the world championships in England this summer. Hussain asked: "If they say 'Kevin, look, we desperately need you to captain'." Pietersen said: "No." Hussain: "No?" Pietersen: "No." That's a no then. It could have been Strauss talking about his team.

This may be just another one-day series at the fag end of a turbulent winter for England but it has assumed a greater significance. The team have not won an international fixture since they first left home back in October. Five-one dayers were lost to India in India and the two-match Test series was lost 1-0.

Then came the Caribbean and a Test series England were clear favourites to win. They lost the first match and never recovered. Last Sunday in a woefully inadequate exhibition Strauss's unprepared men were defeated in the solitary Twenty20 match.

Andy Flower, the assistant coach, would like to become team director, Strauss would like to continue as captain. There is a flood tide of opinion running their way – Pietersen again gave his support, if not ardently – but together they need victories. It will need a titanic effort of will and perhaps one outstanding individual performance to achieve that today. Perhaps the real reason for secrecy is based on keeping everybody alert.

The smart hunch is that Ravi Bopara and Steve Davies will continue to open the batting after doing so in the Twenty20 match on Sunday. Patience has been lost with the pair who started the winter, Ian Bell and Matt Prior, and as England appear to be obsessed with having a keeper who also opens the batting Davies, who looked exciting but limited, has been summoned from the taxi rank.

Strauss's return complicates matters and he will probably bat at number four. Gareth Batty, the reserve spinner, will play his first one-dayer since 2006 and Stephen Harmison's pace in the nets yesterday indicated a possible recall. Either way, it will be a new team.

Strauss promised that they will play assertive cricket because he recognises that the one-day game has changed, or at least has been changed by India. But otherwise he was distinctly cagey. Not that Gayle, the West Indies captain, was revealing his hand. His hamstring may have suffered a slight relapse and he may not play – or he might have been indulging in a game of double bluff. "I can give you some tips but I won't at this moment, he said."

Predictably, he cared not a jot about England's intentions but then Strauss did not care about this lack of care. After the unexpected Test series win when the home side had to cling on for grim life and the shattering Twenty20 result, the West Indies are in control. England can win but may need help from MI6.

Possible teams: England: R S Bopara, S Davies (wkt), K P Pietersen, A J Strauss (capt), P D Collingwood, O A Shah, A D Mascarenhas, S C J Broad, G J Batty, J M Anderson, S J Harmison.

West Indies: D S Smith,R Sarwan, S Chanderpaul, L M P Simmons, D J Bravo, K A Pollard, D Sammy, D Ramdin (capt, wkt), N O Miller, L S Baker, F Edwards.

Suggested Topics
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
Review: Wembley Stadium ***
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice