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Time to do the business

Captain Andrew Strauss has told his England colleagues they have a responsibility to consign the fourth Test fiasco to history as quickly as possible.

England take on Pakistan in an international Twenty20 contest at Bristol with the five-match NatWest Series beginning two days later in Cardiff.

And Strauss believes it is the perfect chance to alter the agenda for the sport's most-talked about topic.

The Pakistanis only confirmed their participation in the limited-overs section of the tour on Friday, following a sensational few days which began with allegations of ball tampering and a first forfeiture in Test history a week ago today.

"I don't think anyone wants to see a cricket game finish in that manner and it wasn't a great week for cricket full stop," said Strauss.

"Looking forward it's probably an opportunity, and responsibility of ours, to get cricket back in the news for the right reasons.

"From our point of view we have been trying to prepare ourselves as well as possible for the one-day series. Most things that have gone on this week have been out of our control and it is not something we really want to get involved with. We need to hit the ground running this week."

Pakistan's one-day contests here five years ago were marred by crowd trouble and pitch invasions but there was no suggestion of unrest in the npower Test series and relations have also been good on the field.

"The crowd behaviour has been excellent through the Test series and we all want to see a good atmosphere at the grounds and the crowds getting stuck in," said Strauss.

"But we don't want to see anyone going over the top and I suppose the players have a responsibility to ensure we don't do anything to incite the crowd either.

"There have not been any problems between the two sides, there is a bit of respect there between the players and there have not been any issues between us at all.

"What has happened is nothing to do with England players at all from my point of view, so hopefully the spirit that the game has been played in will continue in the one-dayers as well."

Strauss insisted those in the home dressing room had not even considered ball tampering when umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove penalised Pakistan in mid-afternoon on the fourth day.

"No, it wasn't (thought about)," said Strauss. "We obviously got ourselves in a pretty dodgy position in the game so we spent a lot of time and thought on trying to extricate ourselves from the situation.

"These sorts of things are best left to the officials rather than players."

Australian Hair deflected most of the attention when it was revealed he had offered to resign his position on the International Cricket Council's elite panel of umpires for a cash payment of US 500,000.

"We were all pretty surprised by it but it's not something we really want to focus on too much now," said Strauss. "From a cricketing point of view it's wasting a lot of time and effort to do so.

"Once we knew the series was going ahead as planned it was important to prepare ourselves both mentally and physically for what is coming up."

In a results-driven business England have been woeful in the shortened form of the game - the 5-0 whitewashing by Sri Lanka earlier this summer means they have won only four of their last 19 contests, one against Ireland and two in dead rubbers against Pakistan and India respectively.

"We have more than enough motivation to perform and give the series a really good go," said Strauss. "We need to make improvements from our defeat to Sri Lanka before a very busy winter of international cricket."

England may hand a first international cap to Stuart Broad tomorrow while at the other end of the career spectrum veteran Darren Gough, 36 next month, may return following a year's exile. Salve helices pariah inure paleoserology evangelistic?
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