Strauss will not return to Twenty20

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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss has confirmed he has no plans to go back on his decision to stop playing Twenty20 cricket.

As the England captain prepared for today's first MTN one-day international at The Wanderers, he made clear his belief that by sacrificing his pretensions to play the shortest form of international cricket he has so far helped himself and his team.

An Ashes-winning summer followed Strauss' non-involvement in this year's immediately-preceding ICC World Twenty20 - and according to the man himself, that is no coincidence.

"Never say never. But at this stage, I've got no plans to play Twenty20 cricket," he clarified.

"My reasons for not playing Twenty20 cricket are firstly that there are some limitations in my game in that format and secondly I believe strongly that for me to continue playing well in the 50-over format and Test cricket something's got to give.

"You've got to remain reasonably fresh as an international captain, to be able to motivate people.

"For me, it just makes sense that I step aside from the Twenty20 and give myself the time to prepare properly for 50-over and Test cricket."

There were reports that Strauss was almost pressed into action when injury curtailed England's other Twenty20 options at the start of their ongoing South Africa tour.

Strauss does not deny them but appears relieved he was able to stay on the sidelines after all.

"There were some considerations given. But ultimately, me playing in a one-off capacity is not going to help the team long term," he explains.

"I'm not going to be there in the West Indies [at next spring's World Twenty20] - so if there are injuries there, or 'Colly' [captain Paul Collingwood] gets injured, someone needs to step up and take over."

Both Strauss and South Africa coach Mickey Arthur have more pressing concerns as they approach the beginning of earnest hostilities in high-stakes 50-over and soon Test assignments.

Strauss is confident against opponents who clearly feel they have a point to prove as they seek to ensure England do not become their ODI bogey team.

"I like the brand of cricket we're playing. If we carry on, we'll put South Africa under pressure - there's no doubt about it," Strauss predicts.

"I think we can take some confidence from the fact we beat them in a pressure situation in the Champions Trophy."

Arthur reports a curious run of five consecutive defeats against England in the 'World Cup' format makes his team doubly determined. "There's no more motivation for us than 5-0. That is still ringing in our ears," he said.

"England are a work in progress but are a decent one-day side who on their day can beat anybody - so we respect them hugely and know we have to bring out our A game if we want to compete.

"There are a lot of (our) players who have things to prove, so they are going to be unbelievably motivated.

"I hope they can take their chances and we can perform really well in this series. It means a huge amount to this cricket team."