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March 14, 2009
The England captain Andrew Strauss hasn't featured in an ODI since the 2007 World Cup yet, on the eve of leading England against West Indies in Sunday's Twenty20, he remains determined to prove his one-day worth.
Strauss's one-day career looked to be over after he was dumped after England's calamitous campaign in the Caribbean two years ago, but following his appointment as captain in all formats of the game, he now has a chance to prove his detractors wrong.
"If ever I wanted to come back into the one-day side, now is the time," Strauss told PA in Trinidad. "I'm playing well, I'm hitting the ball well and I'm playing in quite a positive fashion so I don't have to change my game enormously to prosper at one-day level. It's very exciting for me and I think for this group of players it's exciting to be moving on from the Test series and the thought of having a really good end to the tour."
England lost the Test series against West Indies 1-0, but Strauss's form with the bat was a definite plus. He cracked 541 runs at 67.62, stroking three hundreds, and was particularly impressive in his confident and sprightly feet movement against the spinners - a facet of his game arguably not seen since he first came into the side in 2004. However, he is acutely aware of the need to perform: England have only appointed him as one-day captain for this series, effectively meaning he is still on trial.
"I am energised by it. I've been out for a couple of years and while I've been out I've played some pretty decent cricket for Middlesex," he said. "I don't feel like I'm incapable of playing at this level of one-day cricket and you have motivation to prove yourself again. It's like when I came back into the Test side, you've got that extra motivation to prove yourself again and that allows you to get up in the morning with a spring in your step."
England were comfortably trounced 5-0 by India late last year, and their bowling attack has struggled on unforgiving West Indian pitches in this series. Indeed, they have yet to register a single win this winter.
"If ever there was a time to break our duck for the winter, now is that time," Strauss said. "I think the guys are excited about it. As is always the case with one-day series, the one-day guys come and add energy to the squad. The Test guys are looking forward to getting away from fielding for 170 overs and playing a slightly different brand of cricket. There's always that enthusiasm at the start of a one-day series and that enthusiasm can be built on by performing well and winning. I think we've got a good idea of the type of cricket we want to play. One thing that is very important for us is to get more out of the players we've got.
"We need to score more hundreds, be more consistent and put other teams under pressure more often. That's going to be the issue for us, to get more out of the players we've got because there's a lot of talent there. One thing that's important in one-day cricket is not to play with fear. I think fear creates a lot of problems both individually and collectively, but it's a lot easier said than done to just go out and not play with fear.
"You need to earn the right to do that, but as a general theme it's important we play good aggressive cricket with the bat and the ball."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala