Thursday, September 9, 2010

Strauss looks to cricket's future

First one-day international, Chester-le-Street: England v Pakistan
Date: Friday, 10 September Start time: 1015 BST
Coverage: Live ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 Long Wave and BBC Sport website; live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles; Also live on Sky Sports; highlights on Channel Five


Strauss wary of Pakistan fightback

England captain Andrew Strauss insists the one-day series against Pakistan can help cricket on its recovery from the "cancer" of spot-fixing allegations.

Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir have all been charged and banned by the International Cricket Council, while police investigations continue.

And Wahab Riaz is to become the fourth Pakistan player to be interviewed by police next week amid the controversy.

"These allegations hurt the game but we are looking to move on," said Strauss.

"I don't worry for the future of the game of cricket. It has survived many controversies over the years and will continue to do so.


"I do recognise the importance of ironing out any of these allegations, because ultimately they are a cancer that can spread and devalue the game.

"I think the ICC are doing a very good job in making sure these problems are minimised - and as players, we have a responsibility to help them out in that."

Test and one-day international captain Strauss, returning to the England fold after sitting out their two Twenty20 international wins over Pakistan in Cardiff, was speaking nearly a fortnight after a News of the World newspaper report alleged that Asif and Amir bowled deliberate no-balls to order in this summer's Test series.

But while the England skipper acknowledged the evident damage the spot-fixing crisis has done to the sport - underlined by poor attendances in Cardiff - he believes the upcoming five-game one-day series against Pakistan, starting on Friday, can help rebuild the sport's image.

"Despite whatever allegations have been out there, I still maintain that cricket generally is a very clean sport and that two teams are playing to beat the other 100%," he said.

Waqar targets resurgence in one-dayers

"If I can allay fears, I think there is no chance in my mind that these games coming up will not be played in that spirit.

"That's why these allegations are very hurtful to the game - and that's why we need to move on and make sure the game is clean from now on."

England are expected to spring few surprises in their team selection for the game.

The out-of-form Kevin Pietersen's absence, along with wicketkeeper-batsman Steven Davies' introduction, has mixed things up a bit for the hosts - and with Strauss and Jonathan Trott due to return to the XI it could mean a straight fight for the all-rounder slot between Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright.

Davies has only previously played one one-day international - the semi-final of last year's Champions Trophy against Australia, after he flew out to South Africa to replace the injured Matt Prior.

Pakistan could hand a place to 7ft tall left-arm seamer Mohammad Irfan - one of two players brought in to replace Butt, Aamer and Asif - despite the fact he only arrived in England on Wednesday.

Asad Shafiq is likely to remain a reserve batsman, with Fawad Alam and Mohammad Hafeez likely to remain at the top of the order for the tourists.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis, though, is confident his side will be in the right frame of mind for the series.

The policy in the Pakistan dressing-room at the moment would appear to be to simply not discuss the allegations at all.

Whatever has happened has happened now, and this is a new series - a new ball game

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis

Younis said: "That is what we have been doing - we are not really talking about it.

"If you keep talking about these things your focus goes off track - which we have been in the last week.

"We (want to) make sure the crowd, which would have been disappointed in us the last few games, can come back and support us. It's our duty, I guess.

"We have to pull up our socks and play to our potential. We are a good side; we are a fine side - and we have shown it in patches on this tour.

"Whatever has happened has happened now, and this is a new series - a new ball game."

England (from): Andrew Strauss (captain), Steven Davies (wk), Jonathan Trott, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Michael Yardy, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Ajmal Shahzad, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson.

Pakistan (from): Shahad Afridi (captain), Shahzaib Hasan, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Yousuf, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal (wk), Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq.

Umpires: Billy Doctrove (WI) and Ian Gould (Eng).

Third umpire: Richard Kettleborough (Eng).

Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZ).

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