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Wright enjoys power game

NatWest Series

Luke Wright

Luke Wright hits out on his way to 38 off just 27 balls in the opening match of the NatWest Series at the Brit Oval

Luke Wright is relishing life in the England engine room - with or without Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff for company.

The Sussex all-rounder has assumed the responsibility for adding middle-order firepower in the absence of England’s most destructive one-day batsmen, both of whom are injured.

While England have struggled as a unit in the opening two games of the NatWest Series, both of which were lost, Wright has sparkled briefly with the bat, hitting 38 off 27 balls at the Brit Oval and 20 off 19 at Lord’s.

Having been tried as an opener with limited success, Wright is enjoying a more familiar role lower down the order, but insists he would play the same way regardless.

“I have been fortunate in that I’ve always been told to go out and play my natural game in one-day cricket - to go out, strike the ball and have a lot of intent - so from my point of view it doesn’t really matter if I am up the top or down the order,” he said.

He is equally unperturbed by the greater expectations placed on him as Pietersen and Flintoff recover from Achilles and knee operations respectively.

“It is not something that has put extra pressure on me,” Wright added. “You are always going to miss those guys, as we have seen all summer.

“As soon as you take those guys out of any team you are going to miss them. I am not sure it is going to add any pressure on me or not. I will just play the way I play and hope it comes off well.”

Wright will jet off to the Champions League next month with Sussex, but his immediate concern is helping turn around England’s fortunes in the one-day series.

Defeat in tomorrow’s day-night encounter at the Rose Bowl would leave them 3-0 down with four matches to play, a scenario Wright and company are especially keen to avoid.

Luke Wright

Wright hones his fielding skills ahead of the encounter at the Rose Bowl, a game England "desperately want to win"

“It’s not the end if we don’t win - we still have four more games after that,” he said. “But you don’t want to leave it too late and give yourself too much to do. So we desperately want to win.”

Captain Andrew Strauss and vice-captain Paul Collingwood blamed England’s batting for their failure to win either of the first two games, when they fell short of targets of 261 and 250 respectively.

Sunday’s misjudged pursuit in a 39-run defeat was particularly galling given that they were 74 without loss yet ended up taking the batting powerplay with nine wickets down.

“With the powerplays coming in, you need to be able to hit boundaries at the end,” said Wright.

“We have seen the Australians have played the powerplay at the death, so it is something you need to do at the end. I have just got to try to stay in that little bit longer to take advantage.”

The pace of Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee through the middle of the innings has also caused problems for England.

“It has been so good for them that in that middle period they have been able to come on, bowl at 93-94 miles per hour and take wickets,” admitted Wright.

“They have done that at times; that is the one thing they have got on us. When Brett Lee is flying in you are probably not thinking that back over his head is the option.”

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