Strauss: Tour can bury hatchet with Pakistan

ENGLAND captain Andrew Strauss insists the ramifications of last year’s spot-fixing trial will have no impact on the upcoming series against Pakistan and is confident relations between the two teams are set to improve.

Strauss and the rest of his No1 ranked Test team yesterday flew out to the Middle East, where they are poised to renew competitive hostilities with Pakistan for the first time since the summer of 2010.

That infamous series prompted the criminal investigation which led to the imprisonment last November of Pakistan’s former captain Salman Butt as well as fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, but Strauss believes the forthcoming three-match series, to be staged in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, represents the perfect opportunity to prove both sides have put the scandal behind them.

He said: “We all recognise that it’s time to move on from the spot-fixing trial. What has happened before, as far as I’m concerned is water under the bridge and I hope that both sides can go on and play cricket in the right spirit.

“I think there is a perception that there are always issues between Pakistan and England and we should see that as an opportunity to eradicate that perception.

“There is no reason why that should be the case and if we both approach it in the right spirit then it should be good for the relations between both teams and world cricket.”

England’s position at the head of the Test game will be tested by a largely revamped Pakistan side, currently thriving under the captaincy of Misbah-Ul-Haq, who has presided over six wins, six draws and just one defeat since assuming the role.

Strauss’s side begin the first of two warm-up matches on Saturday ahead of the first Test which starts on 17 January in Dubai, and the England opener is acutely aware of the joint threat posed by highly-skilled opponents and foreign conditions.

“It’s going to be a very competitive series and hopefully for the right reasons,” he said.

“I’m certainly excited about playing in what are going to be fairly alien conditions to what we are used to and that is going to be a good challenge against some good cricketers and that is plenty to worry about without thinking of anything else.”

7 Jan Warm-up v CC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI, Dubai

11 Jan Warm-up v Pakistan Cricket Board XI, venue to be confirmed

17 Jan First Test, Dubai

25 Jan Second Test, Abu Dhabi

3 Feb Third Test, Dubai

13 Feb First ODI, Abu Dhabi

15 Feb Second ODI, Abu Dhabi

18 Feb Third ODI, Dubai

21 Feb Fourth ODI, Dubai

23 Feb First T20, Dubai

25 Feb Second T20, Dubai

27 Feb Third T20, Abu Dhabi