Players must put England before IPL

England cricket captain Andrew Strauss said on Tuesday he trusts players who intend to compete in the lucrative Indian Premier League to remain committed to playing for England as their main priority.

Strauss told a news conference there was a need to balance the huge financial incentives available in the IPL Twenty20 competition with making sure players were prepared to keep playing for England a top concern.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is willing to allow players to take part for 15 days in the six-week competition which is provisionally scheduled to start on April 10. The first Test between England and West Indies starts at Lord’s on May 6.

“Players have to be fully prepared for a Test match. Now what that preparation means is dependent on the players to a certain extent. I’m quite happy to trust the players,” Struass said.

“The players that are going to be involved in the IPL are experienced campaigners. They know what sort of preparation they need in order to prepare for Test matches and I’m sure that whatever time they have prior to the Test match they will use that wisely.”

Strauss, who took over the captaincy of the team following the resignation of Kevin Pietersen and the sacking of coach Peter Moores, said he intended to give players more flexibility in managing their preparation for matches.

“I have asked them to be very honest with themselves about what they need to do in order to prepare for Test matches. I’m going to trust them to go out and prepare themselves and they will use the coaches as little or as much as they feel necessary. And the coaches are very happy with that ,” he said.

“The coaches will play a little more of an advisory (and) consultancy role,”

Strauss said the team had set up a players’ management group comprising Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff, Alastair Cooke and Stuart Broad, to offer feedback from players about the running of the team for Test matches.

He said Pietersen remained an important part of the team both on and off the pitch.

“I was pleasantly surprised that he reacted in the way that we all wanted him to, which was to show that he’s fully committed to playing for England,” Strauss said.

“I will be very, very keen to make sure that I get as many views from him over the coming weeks as I possibly can. Looking forward he is going to be playing a very big role.”

As the team prepare to fly to the Caribbean for a tour of the West Indies, Struass said there were no divisions in the team and that players were keen to get on with winning matches after the sacking of coach Moores, who was temporarily replaced by Andy Flowers.

“From the players point of view we want to get back to doing what we do best which is playing cricket,” he said.

“I’m pretty satisfied that what has happened is not going to adversely affect us, hopefully it will bring us together a little bit more.”

The South African-born opener has not played in a One-Day International since appearing in the 2007 World Cup, but said he retained the ability to play well in limited overs matches.

“I have always maintained that I feel I’m good enough to play One-day cricket. I have had some very good contributions to the team in the past and I don’t feel there is any reason why I can’t in the future either,” he said.

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