Strauss relies on strength in depth
Captain Andrew Strauss is confident England have enough quality to cope without star man Kevin Pietersen in the three-match NatWest Series against Bangladesh.
Pietersen is missing with a thigh strain but was due to be rested anyway, with spinner Graeme Swann also given the week off as part of the England’s ongoing rotation policy.
Although he failed to find his best form in the NatWest Series victory over Australia, Pietersen leaves big boots to fill at number three.
Ian Bell, an unused member of the squad against Australia, is the man most likely to be given the task although Warwickshire team-mate Jonathan Trott also in the squad as cover.
Bell has not always taken his chance to shine in 50-over cricket, but Strauss feels a change of attitude at the crease and some formidable form - including a knock of 158 against India A for England Lions yesterday - will stand him in good stead.
“His form this year has been excellent," said Strauss ahead of tomorrow’s first one-day international at Trent Bridge.
“He’s been playing really well for England in the longer forms of the game too and he’s really maturing as a cricketer. He knows his game very well now and in some ways I think he’s not trying to prove to people he can play anymore.
“He’s more comfortable with his game and I think that’s why his results have been better.
“Kevin is a loss because he’s a world-class player but he’s being replaced by people with proven track records in international cricket.
“It’s not as if we’re blooding a youngster on the back of losing our biggest player.
“I’m entirely confident that we’ve got the reserves in place to cope with that loss. We have very high-quality replacements and that bodes well.”
Expanding on Bell’s technical adjustments, Strauss feels there is a new-found self-belief in the 28-year-old’s approach.
The winter tour to South Africa marked something of a watershed in Bell’s Test career and that now appears to have spilled over into his limited-overs game.
“I think he has made a conscious effort to be more aggressive,” said Strauss.
“He’s played, by all accounts, very positively and very aggressively for both Warwickshire and the Lions.
“He’s in great form, he’s been playing really well for England in the longer forms of the game.
“He’s always had the shots, the key is always when to use them. At the moment, he’s taking on the shots more and finding he’s a good enough player they’ll come off more times than not.”
Victory in the first three of those ODIs raised hopes of an all-too-rare England whitewash but the tourists hit back strongly to win the final two games by a distance.
Back-to-back defeats are never likely to go down well in Andy Flower’s regime, but Strauss is adamant the overall result has provided the squad with plenty to smile about.
“We’re not all that happy with the way the last two matches went but we have to give Australia credit, they’re a top side and made it hard for us,” he added.
“But there is still a huge amount of buoyancy and confidence in the group and we want to go out there and show it against Bangladesh in these three one-dayers.
“We need to earn the right to get on top of them and in a three-match series you’ve got to do that from game one.
“Clearly, our objective is to win the series 3-0.”
Seamer Stuart Broad remains part of the squad following the death of his stepmother today and is expected to play.