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Page last updated at 11:17 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

Strauss backs Pietersen to shine

England Test captain Andrew Strauss
Strauss is delighted to be leading England again

New England captain Andrew Strauss expects batsman Kevin Pietersen to star for England in the West Indies and in time become a cricket "legend".

Strauss became skipper in the wake of Pietersen's resignation earlier this month and has not been slow to pick his brains ahead of the Caribbean tour.

"I've spoken to Kevin a few times and I've been very pleasantly surprised by his attitude," he told BBC Sportsweek.

"I have no doubt that he will go to the West Indies and get millions of runs."

He continued: "It is easy to use the word legend - but I think he will become a legend of the game.

"People like that, when their backs are against the wall, they invariably go out and perform.

"Kevin is clearly passionate about playing cricket for England for a long period of time."

Strauss acknowledged that it had been a "pretty low time" for everyone connected with the team following the rift which led to Pietersen's resignation and head coach Peter Moores being sacked by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

But he said: "I've been very reassured by the chaps that we have not been badly affected as a group and any divisions the press made out were in the side are not evident.

"The players are excited about going to West Indies which is a great tour. No-one likes reading these things in the press and a tour is a great way to bring people closer together."

England play their first match in the Caribbean on 25 January when they take on a St Kitts & Nevis Invitation XI, with the first Test following in Jamaica on 4 February.

The squad sets off on Wednesday and Strauss admitted his task has been made harder because there was no head coach to help with the preparations.

"It's been very busy," said Strauss, who previously led England in five Tests and 13 one-day internationals in 2006.

"Everything is being thrust firmly at my door to get everything ready for the tour, but at the same time it's a fantastic position to be in as I've got a blank canvas to work with and it gives me an opportunity to put things in place."

England are still searching for a replacement for Moores, with Graham Ford and Tom Moody among the potential candidates, and Strauss said he wants a chance to have an input before the next head coach is appointed.

Strauss was also open about his desire to captain England in this summer's Ashes series against Australia.

He said: "I've been given the opportunity to captain England and I'm fairly hopeful it is going to be a long-term appointment.

"That's certainly the indication I've been given from the ECB and that's the way I'm looking at it.

"At the moment I think the England team could do with a bit of stability at the top.

"I'd be very surprised if I don't have an input into which the next coach is going to be. I don't think the captain should choose the coach, but he should have some say."

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see also
Strauss to take on one-day role
09 Jan 09 |  England
Bransgrove points finger at ECB
09 Jan 09 |  Hampshire
Strauss ready to rebuild England
08 Jan 09 |  England
Udal praises Strauss appointment
08 Jan 09 |  England
Strauss to lead West Indies tour
07 Jan 09 |  England
Vaughan misses out on tour place
29 Dec 08 |  England
England in West Indies 2009
29 Dec 08 |  England

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