New captain stunned by Strauss exit

INCOMING Test captain Alastair Cook admits he was shocked by the sudden nature of Andrew Strauss’s retirement from cricket.

One-day skipper Cook only heard the news on Tuesday evening, with the rest of his 50-over colleagues, after his side’s defeat to South Africa in Southampton.

“It was a sad dressing room when we found out,” he said. “It was sudden news and we have all seen Straussy as our leader, me included. We have such huge challenges to come, India away and two Ashes series, so we have to move on quickly. That is the way sport goes.”

Essex opener Cook, 27, said he now planned to join England chiefs in discussing whether exiled batsman Kevin Pietersen had an international future.

“I’ve been on the outside for a lot of the saga but the issue hasn’t changed,” he said. “Clearly I’ll get involved over the coming weeks but this will happen behind closed doors before we can move on.”

Strauss said Cook was the right man to help “refresh” a Test side who last week lost its No1 ranking, adding: “This is a great way for us to do that. Alastair’s going to come in and instil a huge amount of energy.”

PRE-ASHES SCHEDULE

Following the ongoing one-day series with South Africa and next month’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook has two tours with which to prepare England for next summer’s Ashes defence

Cook’s Test captaincy will begin in November with a four-match series in India, followed by five one-day games and two Twenty20s

England then travel to New Zealand for three Tests, ODIs and T20s before facing the same opponents at home in May and June, in two Tests, three ODIs and a T20 match