Wednesday, November 4, 2009

England's Wright behind Strauss

Luke Wright maintains that the team will always be behind Strauss amid suggestions from Graeme Smith he acted out of character.

The South Africa skipper was denied a runner during his innings of 141 during their much-publicised Champions Trophy altercation in September after being struck down by cramp in what was a crucial match for the tournament hosts, with the eventual 22-run loss in Pretoria putting the hosts out of the competition.

Although it emerged afterward that the umpires made the final call, Strauss was cast as the villain with Smith saying in a recent interview that his England counterpart acted against character.

The incident is certain to boil over with the local public and could even lead to more friction in the middle during England's two-and-a-half-month tour to the country, but Wright is giving his full backing to his leader.

He said: "I think you're always behind your captain and when Strauss made the decision, everyone was behind him.

"It's not something that has actually been mentioned again. We've just got on with it and it's something that hasn't bothered us.

"I can only speak of the last game, it was like any other game in international cricket, they were in your face. It's always hard and tough on this stage, there's not too many smiling faces when you're out there anyway, so I'm sure it won't be any different this series.

"I'm sure they'll come out hard like any other team, but if they want to come out any harder for this series, I don't know.

"We'll just have to wait and see, but it's not something that we're particularly worried about." The Sussex all-rounder trained with the rest of his team during a rain-interrupted session at the University of the Free State this morning as they prepared for Friday's opening tour match - a 50-over encounter against the Diamond Eagles in Bloemfontein.

England will then play two further practise games against local sides, before the first of two Twenty20 internationals is followed by a five-match one-day series and four Test matches against the Proteas, who are the top-ranked side in the five-day game.

Wright is expecting a difficult challenge against Smith and his men, but not one that is too tough for England to handle.

He continued: "It's certainly up there, obviously they're the number one side in the world, so you have to say they are (going to be tough).

"They're a great side, they are strong all round and have no particular weakness. But you know, as we've showed that if we play to our best, we've got a great chance." As for his own form, Wright believes that his last batting performance for his country, which came during the Champions Trophy semi-final loss to Australia, showed a "different side" to his game - one he is hoping to showcase more during the tour.
That performance came after his side had slumped to 101 for six, and together with Tim Bresnan, shared a 107-run partnership to lift England to a competitive 257.
He added: "I think the nice thing about it (that partnership) on a personal note, was that it showed a different side of my game. It was not all crash, bang, wallop that I've been renowned for.

"Obviously a lot of the time I get pushed up the order to go into powerplays, which I'm happy to do, but that was a chance to actually bat and show people another side."

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