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Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Udal praises Strauss appointment

By Julian Shea

Andrew Strauss
Strauss has captained Middlesex as well as England

Middlesex skipper Shaun Udal believes his county colleague Andrew Strauss is "undoubtedly" the right man to be England's new captain.

Strauss, who had a spell in charge in 2006, was given the job on Wednesday after Kevin Pietersen resigned.

"Some people say it's two years too late, he should have been captain for the last Ashes but that's history, he's got it now by right," Udal said.

"Andrew won't skirt around any issues. If it needs dealing with, he'll do it."

The flamboyant Pietersen's brief tenure as England captain ended on Wednesday after his feud with coach Peter Moores erupted in public.

At the same time as Pietersen resigned, Moores was sacked, throwing England's preparations for the forthcoming tour of the West Indies into chaos.

But former England Test player Udal is confident Strauss is the man for the job.

"Obviously they're two different people," he said.

"Pietersen is very flamboyant and wears his heart on his sleeve, Straussy has a more measured approach to captaincy but will still want things done his way, and can be forceful when he needs to.

"But cricket-wise he will be desperate that KP will be switched on in the West Indies.

"Undoubtedly he will be, he's a very proud man, and all he wants is for England to win again.

"It'll be a different type of leadership - although we only saw three or four months of KP."

Pietersen was reported to have lost the backing of some of his team-mates in his row with Moores, but Udal said Strauss would be able to deal with any situations in the dressing room.

"I think he'll speak to KP one-to-one, face-to-face, to see how he's reacting to whatever has happened to him," he said.

While the captaincy is now resolved, the question of who will be England's next coach is not - and Udal said Strauss's success or failure in the job would be likely to have a bearing on that.

He has a huge amount of self belief, he'll be able to get his mind around what's required of him to get England back on track

Ben Hutton

"Obviously it's important that the captain and coach have a good relationship," he said.

"I think the right thing to do would be have a good look around while the boys are in the West Indies, but Andrew has to have an input on that.

"If he's going to be in charge for foreseeable future it's important that the captain has a say who he'll be working very closely with, hopefully he'll have a say on that very pivotal position.

"This could be the best way forward," he added. "Everything will be fresh, Peter Moores is not around and there's a new captain.

"There are no excuses for England not to go onwards and upwards and start performing on the pitch.

"The pinnacle would be to be lifting that Ashes urn at the end of August having regained it."

Strauss's former Middlesex team-mate Ben Hutton agreed with Udal that Strauss had the strength of character necessary to steady the team in such turbulent times.

Andrew Strass and Shaun Udal
Strauss (left) and Udal (right) have enjoyed success together at Middlesex

"He's very phlegmatic and takes things in his stride," he told BBC Sport. "Any difficult challenging situation you throw at him, he deals with it well.

"He's only had one shaky period in his Test career and he's shown he can deal with difficult times."

Strauss was previously overlooked as England captain in favour of the more flamboyant Andrew Flintoff and Pietersen, but their reigns were both short and ill-fated.

Hutton said Strauss's more level-headed approach was exactly what the team needed.

"There are some pretty large characters in that dressing room," he said.

"The situation with KP is not ideal, both him and Freddie (Flintoff) are very influential players he needs to get the best out of.

"Andrew will see it as a significant challenge which he will be able to deal with - he has a huge amount of self belief, he'll be able to get his mind around what's required of him to get England back on track."

Despite back-to-back series against the West Indies coming up, it is Australia's visit in the summer that dominates the cricketing year.

And Hutton said if an on-going behind-the-scenes row had to flare up in public, it was best to get it out of the way well in advance of the Ashes.

"Australia are there for taking, their game is in decline," he said.

"You can understand them laughing and thinking it's a joke - they're trying to divert things away from themselves back to how shambolic things are with England.

"It's happened, so we've got to get on with things - we're in great hands with Straussy to move things forward again."

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see also
Strauss ready to rebuild England
08 Jan 09 |  England
Strauss to lead West Indies tour
07 Jan 09 |  England
Kevin Pietersen career photos
08 Jan 09 |  Cricket
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England

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