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'Kevin Pietersen is a positive person'

January 21, 2009 12:42 IST

The bitter circumstances of Kevin Pietersen's step-down from captaincy notwithstanding, newly-appointed England skipper Andrew Strauss says he remains a "positive" person focussed on doing well with the bat.

"Kevin was his normal self when we met up. Kevin hasn't shown a negative side since the day I met him and I don't expect that to start now. He's a very positive person and doesn't dwell on what happened in the past," Strauss told reporters on Tuesday.

Strauss took over as captain after Pietersen and coach Peter Moores were both sacked following a public fallout. The new captain called on his team-mates to take responsibility during the upcoming tour of the Caribbean. 

"We want to see players who are able to think on their eet out in the middle, take responsibility for the situation, don't leave it for someone else," Strauss said. 

"The only way we can do that is by giving them responsibility off the pitch as well as on it. I am looking for my players to start thinking about what they need to do in terms of preparation," he added. 

Although England will head to West Indies for the 11-week tour without a head coach with only former Zimbabwe wicket-keeper batsman Andy Flower -- who was Moores' deputy -- leading the support staff, Strauss feels the players should take the onus in such a situation.

"I suppose the coaches will play a bit more of an advisory-type role. They will be consultants. It's vitally important that players are challenged to think for themselves.

The more we do that, the more people will do the right things," said the 31-year-old left-hander.

"It's important that the players take ownership of that sort of thing. I have asked them to be very honest with themselves about what they need to do in order to prepare for Test matches," Strauss said. 

Pietersen has been excluded from the players' management committee for the Test squad but Strauss feels handling him in the upcoming tour won't be a problem for him.

England have reshaped their player management group with Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad forming the team for the Tests, while Pietersen will come back during the ODI series replacing Cook. 

"I wanted to bring in a couple of the younger players and I think that it is important. We need to involve Kevin as much as possible, but it is a case of gradually re-introducing him. Looking forward, he is going to play a very big role, but he has had a lot on his plate and now he must concentrate on batting and getting the runs we know he can," Strauss explained.

England's recent record in the Caribbean has been impressive and they have registered 13 wins out of 16 Tests in the last four series spanning nine years. Strauss' men therefore start favourites in the four-Test series that kicks off in Jamaica on February 4. 

"We want to win both the Tests and one-day series and start building some momentum before the summer. We have been playing decent cricket over the last year but we haven't nailed it home when needed to. 

"The West Indies are now a very dangerous side with the likes of Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Fidel Edwards. 

"If we can start being a little bit more ruthless in the way we play, we will be a match for most sides," the skipper said.

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