Strauss deflects captaincy talk
Andrew Strauss insists his influence in securing a NatWest Series draw should not affect who captains England in the Ashes.
England came from 2-0 down to level the one-day series against Pakistan after a tense but successful run-chase at Edgbaston, reinforcing Strauss’ captaincy credentials.
When Michael Vaughan was sidelined for the long term it was confirmed that Flintoff would lead the side indefinitely, only for a recurring ankle problem to leave the job in Strauss’ hands.
The identity of the man entrusted with fronting the challenge will be revealed on Tuesday when the Australian tour squad and the party for the ICC Champions Trophy is named.
However, Strauss declared: “I don’t think winning these two games should have any bearing on the captaincy whatsoever.
“I’ve been captaining the side since May/June time so I think they’ve got a fair idea about what sort of captain I am and likewise with Fred (Flintoff).
“It’s obviously getting close to the time when they’ve got to make that decision and I’m sure they’ll be making it in the next day or two.
“I haven’t really spent too much time thinking about it. What’s been more important has been focusing on this series and trying to get back into it, which we’ve done well.
“The next couple of days are important for the selectors to gather their thoughts and decide who is the best man for the job.
“I’d love to do the job in Australia if asked, but it’s for other people to decide who is best to lead that side.
“Whoever is captain, it is about a squad going out there willing to compete and really wanting to to do well.”
England made the most of Strauss winning the toss for the first time in the series, restricting Pakistan to a modest 154 for nine.
The pace attack nipped the ball around on a helpful surface, Sajid Mahmood providing an emphatic response to being booed by the Pakistan supporters in the crowd.
He claimed 2-24, including the prize scalp of Mohammad Yousuf, and later kept his cool with the bat, hitting an unbeaten 22, to win the man-of-the-match award.
“I know that Saj does all his talking on the pitch and that is the way it should be,” said Strauss.
“As an international cricketer you have to get used to not getting things all your own way from the crowd and it’s important to block that out as much as possible.
“He’s got a great attitude and he showed a cool head there at the end to see us home.
“I know he’s feeling very happy tonight and it’s great to see young players going out there to perform.
“Saj has got a lot of very, very good attributes as a bowler - he has got pace, he can swing the ball, he can reverse-swing the ball - but he’s young and he’s going to make mistakes at times and not get it all right.
“It’s just a question of learning from his experiences, learning from his mistakes, and he’s doing that pretty well.
“He has learnt a lot over the last six months and he’ll continue to do that in the future.”
England lost four wickets for 16 runs and, at 118 for seven, there was more than a little concern.
Three boundaries in a row by Mahmood off Rana Naved-ul-Hasan eased the pressure, however, and Strauss said: “I don’t think we thought it had got away from us, but we did feel we’d created a bit of a mess for ourselves.
“We weren’t as clinical as we should have been in chasing that target. You should chase that nine-and-a-half times out of 10.
“It’s something we must learn to do, chasing small targets like that, but it is a win and at the moment a win is a good place to be.
“It has been a tough summer in one-day cricket and hopefully now there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’m pretty happy with how the season has gone on - things have definitely improved. And if we continue to improve over the winter we will be a very good side.”
Pakistan dominated the early contests in the series but somehow failed to inflict a fifth straight series defeat on England.
“We had a pretty good chance to win the series but England played very well these last two games and we made some mistakes,” said captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.
“The first session was also helpful for the fast bowlers and the toss was important as the ball was moving around.
“We had a little bit of a chance when they were seven wickets down and a couple more and we could have won.
“We had only a small total but the pressure was on England.”