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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2007, 18:59 GMT
Strauss left out
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport in St Lucia

Andrew Strauss
Strauss led England to a series win over Pakistan in September

Andrew Strauss played in 74 consecutive one-day internationals for England from November 2003 to this February.

As recently as September, he captained England to victory in their home one-day series against Pakistan, scoring two half-centuries in the process.

Many were surprised when he was passed over in favour of Andrew Flintoff as Ashes captain.

But now he finds himself on the outer perimeter as the spare batsman in England's World Cup squad and it appears that only injury or illness will allow him back into the side.
Martin Gough - BBC Sport

In Michael Vaughan, Ed Joyce and Ian Bell, England are already over-loaded with openers.

Strauss was used lower down the order during the one-day series in Australia, responding with his best score of the Ashes tour, 55 against New Zealand in Brisbane.

But Kevin Pietersen's return from a rib injury closed the gap in the line-up and there is simply no space for him at the moment.

Strauss's absence from the first-choice side was highlighted this week, after Flintoff was stripped of the vice-captaincy.

Paul Collingwood - whose captaincy experience stretches to five matches with Durham in 2005 - looked like he would have to stand in should Vaughan be unavailable.

The stellar start to Strauss's England career, which brought a century at Lord's on Test debut and kept his Test average over 50 for his first two summers has slowly unravelled.

His shots, which have always tended to be the high-risk variety square of the wicket, have become looser and less well-judged.

Andrew Strauss
Strauss discusses his plight with England coach Duncan Fletcher

In the 11 months leading up to this tournament, Strauss played more than any of his England team-mates, with 15 Tests and 30 one-day internationals.

Asked while in Australia whether the constant grind of travelling and playing may be playing a part in his slump in form, Strauss replied: "It may seem like that.

"If you look at my run of scores it would suggest I haven't played the same way as I have played previously.

"When you are out of form, the problem is you generally think too much and you try to make things happen too much."

As part of trying to think the right way about his batting, Strauss could be seen in the nets last week working with assistant coach and sports psychologist Jeremy Snape.

The more experienced players you can have in your squad, the better and Andrew's experience of playing Tests and one-dayers is valuable

Paul Collingwood

Snape bowled to Strauss, who then counted to seven before playing his shot, allowing him to take a little more time to make his selection.

However, England's aversion to the sort of rotation policy used by Australia and New Zealand means he will have limited opportunity to try the technique in a match situation.

Strauss has not been made available to speak to the media since his arrival in the Caribbean but he does not seem to be a poor tourist while out of the first XI.

For instance, he has been helping his Middlesex team-mate Ed Joyce get used to the pressures of opening.

"The fact that it's Straussy makes it a bit easier because he's a good mate of mine and he's been helping me through a few things," said Joyce.

"If you've got people like that it helps your game."

As one of the senior players, Strauss still plays a part in squad decision-making.

"The more experienced players you can have in your squad, the better and Andrew's experience of playing Tests and one-dayers is valuable," said Collingwood.

Should injury strike during the rest of this World Cup, England may need Strauss back to his best, so they will have to keep their fingers crossed that he can end his slump if needed.

Snape massaging England minds
22 Mar 07 |  England
Bracewell wants England progress
22 Mar 07 |  New Zealand
England players cross the line
20 Mar 07 |  England
Flintoff 'ashamed' by Cup antics
19 Mar 07 |  England
BBC World Cup coverage
21 Feb 07 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2007 schedule
20 Jul 05 |  Cricket


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