Strauss ready for action

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Andrew Strauss does not think off-the-pitch issues will distract England
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Andrew Strauss does not think off-the-pitch issues will distract England

Andrew Strauss is set to begin the must-win Lord's Test on Thursday morning, convinced England's prospects will not be compromised by the Kevin Pietersen controversy.

The skipper has vowed to set all potential distractions aside - and added, for good measure, that anyone who thinks the Pietersen saga, which has seen the batsman dropped for the third Test, might have had a negative impact on England's chances is mistaken.

"People might say that - I would say those people are misinformed, or particularly pessimistic," he said. "I sensed with the players when we met up on Monday night that they were very relieved that the situation had been dealt with and that they were particularly keen to get on with preparing for a Test match and not having to worry about these distractions."

For England, the absence of Pietersen's world-class batting is an obvious handicap - not to mention the aggravation caused by his omission for declining, initially, to apologise to his employers for "provocative" texts he has admitted sending to opposition players during the drawn Headingley Test.

Pietersen will not now be named in England's final 15-man squad on Saturday, for the defence of their ICC World Twenty20 crown in Sri Lanka.

His hopes of a return to play for England in all three formats, in the more medium term, will be decided at a later date - following negotiations which, as far as Strauss is concerned, will take place after the end of this Test at least.

"In the last week, there's been a lot of stuff flying around, a lot of new developments on a day-by-day basis, and it's very hard for the players to not be involved in that in some way," he said.

"Once the decision's been made, it's been a bit more easy for the players to concentrate on the game at hand.

"I also think good dressing rooms, good sides can draw strength from adversity, and I'm certainly expecting them to do that this week.

"But at this stage that's not something that I can afford to be thinking about in too great a detail. I'm sure that people in the ECB will be trying to think what the way forward is over the next few days."

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