England focused on Proteas
Strauss insists squad are concentrating on South Africa
Last Updated: 18/07/12 7:00pm
Andrew Strauss: Reiterates England are focused on beating South Africa
Captain Andrew Strauss has reiterated that England are fully focused on beating South Africa, starting with Thursday's first Test.
Suggestions have been made that Kevin Pietersen's high-profile limited overs retirement has been an unwelcome distraction as England bid to defend their place at the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
Strauss has refuted claims that the situation has affected morale in England's camp, stating the discussions that have taken place regarding Pietersen's limited-overs future have not involved players nor management.
England's captain insists the squad have been able to focus on the task at hand and that Pietersen is as determined as ever to shine in the series.
"The conversations that Kevin's been having are between himself, his representatives and the board," Strauss said on Sky Sports News.
"The players haven't been involved, the management haven't been involved and that's the way we'd like it to remain.
"It hasn't been a distraction to us, it's something that hasn't entered our thinking and it's allowed us to concentrate properly on this game.
"Kevin, as much as anyone, is determined to do well in this series and I haven't seen any signs in his preparation to suggest he's in any way distracted by what's going on."
"It's a very stern challenge. South Africa very fine side, they've proved that over the last couple of years and they'll be determined to knock us off our perch."
Andrew Strauss Quotes of the week
South Africa, who are ranked number three in the world but can go top of the Test rankings with a series victory, are the last team to win a Test series on English soil. Strauss knows the size of the challenge ahead. "At the moment it's all about the first Test against South Africa as it has to be," he continued.
"It's a very stern challenge. South Africa very fine side, they've proved that over the last couple of years and they'll be determined to knock us off our perch.
"There's a bit of extra spice to the series because it's the number one and two teams in the world but every series I've played against South Africa has been very keenly contested.
"I'm very excited about it, it'll be a good gauge for us as to where we are actually. The rankings say we're number one but we've got to go out there and prove it now."