England in the West Indies 2008-09 January 19, 2009

Strauss backs Pietersen to perform

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Strauss: "It is easy to use the word legend, but I think Kevin Pietersen will become a legend of the game" © AFP

Andrew Strauss expects Kevin Pietersen, who he succeeded as the England captain, to bounce back on the tour of the West Indies after the batsman's resignation as the team's leader. Pietersen stood down on the same day the coach Peter Moores was sacked and Strauss is in the process of remoulding the squad ahead of their departure for the Caribbean on Wednesday.

"I've spoken to Kevin a few times and I've been very pleasantly surprised by his attitude," Strauss told BBC Sportsweek. "I have no doubt that he will go to the West Indies and get millions of runs.

"It is easy to use the word legend, but I think he will become a legend of the game. People like that, when their backs are against the wall, they invariably go out and perform. Kevin is clearly passionate about playing cricket for England for a long period of time."

Strauss felt the team was not divided following the upheaval. "I've been very reassured by the chaps that we have not been badly affected as a group and any divisions the press made out were in the side are not evident," he said. "The players are excited about going to West Indies, which is a great tour. No-one likes reading these things in the press and a tour is a great way to bring people closer together."

Strauss' job has been made tougher by the fact that the team does not have a head coach. "It's been very busy," he said. "Everything is being thrust firmly at my door to get everything ready for the tour, but at the same time it's a fantastic position to be in as I've got a blank canvas to work with and it gives me an opportunity to put things in place."

Strauss, who previously served in the top job when Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff were out injured, said he was looking forward to leading England in this year's Ashes, a job he was overlooked for in 2006-07 when Flintoff returned. "I've been given the opportunity to captain England and I'm fairly hopeful it is going to be a long-term appointment," he said. "That's certainly the indication I've been given from the ECB and that's the way I'm looking at it. At the moment I think the England team could do with a bit of stability at the top."

Strauss also sees himself playing some role in the selection of the new coach. "I'd be very surprised if I don't have an input into which the next coach is going to be," he said. "I don't think the captain should choose the coach, but he should have some say."