Andrew Strauss faces an important period of one-day cricket as he aims to reaffirm his credentials to be England's 50-over captain at next year's World Cup. Although he has slotted back into the Test side with two comfortable victories against Bangladesh, following his absence from the tour in March, England's World Twenty20 triumph in the Caribbean has thrown the spotlight on their limited-overs plans.
The last time Strauss played in coloured clothes for his country was back in November when he helped the side to a 2-1 series victory in South Africa, their first in that country in one-day cricket, which came on the back of an improved showing in the Champions Trophy where they reached the semi finals after being thrashed 6-1 by Australia last September.
Strauss had not played since the 2007 World Cup when he was handed the one-day captaincy by default in early 2009 following the messy departure of Kevin Pietersen. In 21 matches since then he has scored 647 runs at 32.35, which is almost identical to his career average, with one hundred and four fifties. Although Geoff Miller, the national selector, confirmed he would be retained as captain for the forthcoming ODI campaign, Strauss was surprised when asked to defend his place ahead of the match against Scotland on June 19 then the five-game series against Australia.
"I have had a reasonable amount of success in one-day cricket over the last 12 months but I should and can play better," he said. "That is going to be the challenge for me. Everyone has been very supportive so far. One of the great challenges of being captain is to make sure that you are worth your spot in the side."
In Strauss's absence Alastair Cook led the side on the Bangladesh tour and opened the batting. Cook enjoyed a strong series with the bat as England won 3-0, but it isn't attention from Strauss's Test opening partner that is increasing the pressure on his place, but rather the dynamic style of cricket the team produced in West Indies.
Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb opened for the Twenty20 team which was led by Paul Collingwood, who will return from his rest period when the one-day squad is named on Thursday, but has insisted he has no desire to reclaim the 50-over captaincy. The new first-wicket duo gave England the type of starts they have rarely achieved in the Powerplay overs.
"The Twenty20 team has obviously moved on," Strauss said. "But we have made some quite significant changes and improvements in the 50-over game over the last nine months or so. Clearly we will have the likes of Paul Collingwood back, which is going to be a massive addition to the squad. I am excited about having him back.
"It will be great to sit down and talk about some of the things they are doing in the Twenty20 game and see whether that is transferable to the 50-over game. I am excited about one-day cricket in general. I think we have started to play the style of cricket which is so important if you want to win consistently away from home. There is no plan to change that. We are going to continue with that and it would be wrong not to."
Kieswetter, who made his ODI debut in Bangladesh and hit a hundred in his third game, is expected to be named in the squad this week, possibly at the expense of Matt Prior, and there is a school of thought that Lumb should be allowed to recreate his successful pairing.
However, since returning from the World Twenty20 where he made 137 in seven innings at a strike-rate of 141.23, which was the highest among the England team, Lumb has struggled for Hampshire with scores of 5, 0, 0, 0, 31 and 38.