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Strauss ready to rebuild England

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Strauss wants 'fresh start' for England

Andrew Strauss insisted he had the backing of predecessor Kevin Pietersen after taking over as England captain.

Pietersen quit on Wednesday after five months in charge following a rift with coach Peter Moores, who was sacked.

"It is a great honour to be named as England captain and I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead," said Strauss.

"I've spoken to Kevin a couple of times already. I know him well, he's a good mate. He said he will support me and I believe he will."

Strauss, 31, will lead England on their Test series in the West Indies, which begins on 21 January, and a successful showing is likely to see him keep the position for the Ashes series against Australia this summer.

I know Kevin extremely well and appreciate he may be bruised at the moment but he will bounce back and will be one of the most important figures going forward

Andrew Strauss
The selectors will meet on Friday morning to discuss the make-up of the coaching staff for the Caribbean tour.

They must also decide whether Strauss should be added to the squad for the one-day and Twenty20 internationals squads or instead pick a separate skipper for that department.

Strauss captained England during the summer of 2006 when Michael Vaughan was injured and led the side to a 2-0 series victory against Pakistan.

"Everything has happened so fast, in whirlwind fashion, it's been hard to take a step back and appreciate what lies in front of me," the Middlesex opener told a news conference at Lord's on Thursday.

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"I'm very excited about doing the job. Clearly the circumstances are less than ideal in some ways. There's a lot of hard work to do in the future.

"It hasn't been an ideal situation. I don't think anyone really has come out of it particularly well. It's happened. We need to move on.

"We need to think what it is we have to do to start winning Test matches consistently. That's my job as captain.

"I know Kevin extremely well and appreciate he may be bruised at the moment but he will bounce back and will be one of the most important figures going forward."

Pietersen flew into London on Thursday following a holiday in South Africa and said: "In light of recent events between the ECB and myself, I'm going to take some time out to reflect on the situation and spend time with family and friends.

"I will be responding to the current press speculation in due course."

Pietersen, who admitted last week his relationship with Moores was strained, had previously stated his desire to remain involved in the England set-up.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has yet to decide who will replace Moores with Wednesday's tumultuous events leaving the camp in disarray ahead of the Caribbean.

England batsman Ian Bell told BBC Radio 5 Live the players had been "shocked" to learn that their coach and captain had departed.

"We genuinely never knew things were so bad," said Bell. "We haven't really known too much, or heard much through the ECB. It's been pretty amazing.

"All captains and coaches are going to have different ideas and that happens in all sports. I'm sure that's always the case and I'm amazed it's become so public. But I think when it comes out like that it's the only way it has to end.

"I've really enjoyed my cricket under Moores and I've probably had some of my best performances for England under him.

"It's been a tricky few days and the team are looking forward to getting back out on the field and playing some cricket, moving things on as fast a possible and giving Straussy the biggest support we can to get things back on track."

Strauss, who admitted batting coach Andy Flower is the "obvious choice" to take over from Moores, now plans to speak to his team-mates to work out how to achieve his goals for the side.

"I've got to speak to the players individually and put across my philosophy on how we need to play cricket," he said.

"There's a huge amount of pride from all the players. We want to win. We don't want to see English cricket in the state it has been for the last week or two. The only way to do that is to win cricket matches."

Former skipper Vaughan, whose potential return to the England team led to a clash between Pietersen and Moores, has backed him to put the controversy behind him.

"What Kevin has to do now is go to the West Indies and score a hundred in the first Test, then it will be forgotten," Vaughan told the Daily Telegraph.

"England need Kevin to be challenging to be the number one batsman in the world.

"Strauss and KP get on well although they are very different people. There will be pressure on KP after all the controversy and I hope he is not going to be affected by it."

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew believes Pietersen was desperate not to relinquish the captaincy but insists he has only himself to blame.

"He hung on and he hung on, he didn't want to go. It wasn't until 1715 GMT that he finally resigned when he was given the ultimatum by the ECB that either you resign or you are going to be sacked," Agnew told BBC Radio 5 Live.

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"He brought about his own downfall. He clearly felt that he had the team behind him in flagging up that he didn't think Peter Moores was a good enough coach to take England forward and he miscalculated there."

With a crucial year of cricket ahead for England, Agnew feels it was important for the Pietersen-Moores rift to come out sooner rather than later.

"The Board were very angry that this had been put into the public domain but I'd say thank goodness it was," he added.

"If it hadn't come out now what would the impact have been had it come out in April or May, with the Ashes just around the corner? It would have been an absolute disaster for English cricket."

Duncan Fletcher, Moores's predecessor as England coach, thinks Strauss could have serious problems uniting a squad that is reportedly divided over Pietersen.

On tour there was no in-fighting, no cliques, no rooting to get rid of Pietersen, it seemed a very harmonious group

England spinner Graeme Swann

"Not the least of the difficulties will be how to handle KP when he returns to the rank and file," Fletcher wrote in his Guardian column.

"The ECB has exposed him somewhat by admitting that its research, whatever form it took, revealed a lack of support for Pietersen as captain.

"That to me sounds like a huge problem in the making: will the dressing room divide into pro and anti-KP camps? How will it gel?

"Will the new captain have the backing of all the senior players? It's going to be a huge issue for the poor captain in the months ahead."

But England spinner Graeme Swann told 5 Live that talk of pro and anti-Pietersen camps was plainly untrue.

"I'm flummoxed by the whole thing to be honest. People will read it in the newspaper and believe it but it's absolute tosh," he said.

"I read in a couple of the daily papers that I was one of the mutineers along with Flintoff Anderson and Harmison. Just because you're mates with someone you can't be bracketed as being a mutineer.

"It's very disappointing as players because on tour there was no in-fighting, no cliques, no rooting to get rid of Pietersen, it seemed a very harmonious group."

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see also
Pietersen 'was the right choice'
08 Jan 09 |  England
Udal praises Strauss appointment
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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