Strict Strauss lays down law to troops

CAPTAIN Andrew Strauss has warned his England troops of their off-the-field responsibilities after coming close to losing Graeme Swann for today’s third Test with Pakistan at The Oval.

Spinner Swann missed Monday’s practice session after appearing in a Nottingham court to answer a drink-driving charge.

Swann told the court he had returned from birthday celebrations and was driving to his local Asda supermarket to buy screwdrivers to rescue his pet cat from under floorboards.

The case was adjourned until 7 October, allowing Swann to team up with the squad for training yesterday.

Strauss insists the case hasn’t hindered preparations for the third Test, but was quick to warn his team-mates to watch their step when in the public eye.

“He’s fine,” Strauss said of the Notts spinner. “Obviously the court case has been adjourned and he’s got his mind on the game. He’s still managed to drive himself down here so things are okay.

“We often say you’re an England cricketer 24 hours a day. Anything you do on or off the pitch, people will be taking note of it in a way it will reflect on the England cricket team. We don’t want incidents where people are in the news for the wrong reasons.”

Strauss has also laughed off suggestions from his Australian counterpart Ricky Ponting that it was “absolutely possible” for England to suffer a 5-0 whitewash in the Ashes series this winter.

“This is the start of silly season I suppose, people coming out with predictions,” he said. “Predictions ultimately mean nothing, it’s how you play on the pitch so I think we’ll just keep it nice and simple.”