England squads for tour of South Africa
England captain Andrew Strauss insists there will be no question of divided loyalties amongst the South Africa-born members of his squad when they face the world number one-ranked Proteas.cricket Updated: Nov 01, 2009 02:06 IST
England captain Andrew Strauss insists there will be no question of divided loyalties amongst the South Africa-born members of his squad when they face the world number one-ranked Proteas.
Four members of England's 16-man party for the Test leg of their tour have South African connections, including Strauss and wicket-keeper Matt Prior who were both born in Johannesburg.
But it is the presence of South Africa-born batsmen Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, who both learned their cricket in the Republic, which is set to provide a big talking point.
Pietersen received persistent verbal abuse from crowds during the one-day leg of England's tour of South Africa five years ago.
And Trott, whose century on his Test debut at the Oval in August played a key role in England regaining the Ashes, is set to face a similar reaction.
The presence of Pietersen and Trott in the squad has led many to question whether there is something fundamentally wrong with the way in which England are developing players for international cricket.
But Strauss, speaking at a Heathrow Airport hotel on Saturday ahead of England's departure, insisted where players were born and brought up was not an issue for him: "In terms of trying to win the Test series it won't be a big issue but it might bubble away in the background.
"All I can say is the selectors sit down and pick the best 15 England qualified players," the opening batsman added.
"The fact some of them have been born out of these shores is of no consequence. In order to make it to Test level you must show a lot of determination, hunger and desire.
"The fact Kevin and Jonathan have come over later in their lives are of no consequence.
"They've obviously had the determination, hunger and desire - possibly more than some people in county cricket.
"They deserve to be playing for England because of that.
"I don't think this system can't produce good England players, we've seen it produce a number of good England born players over the years and that will to continue to be the case.
"As captain I'm very happy the 15 players I've got are 100 percent committed to performing for England and representing their country.
"That's the way it should be. Looking into their backgrounds is of no consequence to us and is not something we'll focus on."
Trott's loyalties were questioned this week by former England captain Michael Vaughan.
In his autobiography, Vaughan said the 28-year-old Cape Town-born batsman was seen celebrating with South African players after they had beaten England at Edgbaston in 2008.
But Strauss said: "I'm 100 percent happy with Trott's commitment to playing for England and have no concern over it whatsoever.
"He said himself that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He knows a few of those players.
"I've spoken about it with him and he has a completely clear conscience on the matter.
"He said hi and well done to the guys - if I wasn't playing in the Test I'd probably have said the same thing as well.
"To uproot your life and start all over again in another country is a big decision and I'm sure he'll make the most of the opportunity of playing for England," Strauss added.
Looking ahead, the Middlesex left-hander said facing South Africa would be tougher than regaining the Ashes.
"Playing South Africa, who are the number one team in the world, is probably the hardest assignment there is. It's harder than winning the Ashes at home," he said.
"In pure cricketing terms this is as hard as it gets right now."