Saturday, October 31, 2009

Andrew Strauss sure of Jonathan Trott's commitment

Andrew Strauss, the England captain, has said he is "100% happy with Jonathan Trott's commitment" and was not concerned by Michael Vaughan's allegations that the batsman celebrated with South Africa after they beat England at Edgbaston in 2008.

"He [Trott] said himself that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He knows a few of those players. I've spoken about it with him and he has a completely clear conscience on the matter," Strauss said. "He said hi and well done to the guys - if I wasn't playing in the Test I'd probably have said the same thing as well."

Trott had a spectacular debut this year, scoring a series-clinching century in the deciding Ashes Test at The Oval and Strauss said he was an "exciting prospect". "To uproot your life and start all over again in another country is a big decision and I'm sure he'll make the most of the opportunity of playing for England."

Strauss was speaking ahead of England's departure for the two-and-a-half month tour of South Africa, a trip which includes Twenty20 internationals, ODIs and Tests. Strauss felt playing South Africa at home was "probably the hardest assignment there is. It's harder than winning the Ashes at home. In pure cricketing terms this is as hard as it gets right now."

England's 15-man squad includes four players with ties to South Africa. Wicketkeeper Matt Prior and Strauss himself were born in Johannesburg, while Trott and Kevin Pietersen moved to England after spending their formative years in South Africa. Pietersen had received a hostile reception from the South African crowd when he toured there five years ago and a similar welcome could lie in store for Trott. Strauss, however, insisted that it wouldn't be a distraction to England's goal.

"In terms of trying to win the Test series, it won't be a big issue but it might bubble away in the background," Strauss said. "All I can say is the selectors sit down and pick the best 15 England qualified players. The fact some of them have been born out of these shores is of no consequence.

"They've obviously had the determination, hunger and desire - possibly more than some people in county cricket. They deserve to be playing for England because of that. As captain I'm very happy that the 15 players I've got are 100% committed to performing for England and representing their country."

England begin their tour with a warm-up match against the Eagles on November 6 in Bloemfontein and have two more practice games ahead of the first Twenty20 international against South Africa in Johannesburg on November 13.

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