Strauss promises united front
Andrew Strauss is determined to look forward, not back, as he attempts to bring the England dressing room closer together following the departures of Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores.
Pietersen resigned as captain yesterday, a day which also saw Moores leave his post as coach and Strauss installed as skipper for the tour of West Indies starting later this month.
Strauss believes he is the right person for the job despite the recent upheaval, and is confident he has the ability to get the best out of his charges.
“I think in situations like this, people get pushed into corners sometimes,” he said. “We have got some strong characters who believe strongly in what they are about.
“My job is to manage them and make sure we are all going in the right direction together.
“The times I have done it before were as a stand-in captain. It is a different dynamic that I am faced with at the moment and we need to look to move forward from here.
“We need to get back to winning cricket matches - that is our primary concern. I am sure that will unite us.”
Pietersen has committed himself to continue playing for England, and Strauss knows that dealing with England’s premier batsman when he is back in the ranks will be crucial to the team’s success.
“It is vitally important as an England team going forward that we get the best out of Kevin Pietersen,” he said. “We all know what a quality player KP is and I back him to score runs consistently just about any time.
“We need to make sure he is comfortable within the team environment and that any issues to be dealt with between players are dealt with and we move on from there.
“He took those actions because he believed that was the right thing to do. That is Kevin Pietersen as a person and I personally don’t think he should be villified for it.”
Strauss’ immediate concern, however, is to get England back to winning ways after a disappointing tour of India and defeat in the Test series against South Africa in the summer.
“We are, at the end of the day, cricketers. We want to represent England as well as we possibly can, and we want to win cricket matches,” he said.
“I’ve got total belief that everyone involved with the England team feels exactly as I do in that respect.
“England cricketers want to go out and play good cricket. That drives us both individually and collectively.
“There’s time for things to heal and for England to get back to playing the sort of cricket we need to beat Australia.”
Strauss last captained England in 2006 when Michael Vaughan was injured - he oversaw a 2-0 series win over Pakistan - and admitted he thought long and hard before accepting the job this time round.
“The reality is that someone has got to captain the side,” he said. “I believe I can do the job now, and I am the right person to do the job on this occasion.
“It is important at this stage, more than any, that there is leadership. That was my primary reason for taking the job. I have the opportunity to run the team how I feel it should be run. I’ve got a blank canvas.”
Although the coaching set-up is yet to be decided, Strauss is confident that he will be able to gel with whomever is appointed.
“When a full-time coach is selected it is important that I sit down and discuss with him what my views are on how the team needs to go forward,” he admitted.
“I’ve got some strong views on that, and he, I am sure, will have his views. You need a captain and coach in a good working relationship.
“You are not going to agree on everything, but the key is to have a united front and support each other.
“I back myself to be able to work with most people.”