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May 27, 2009

Andrew Strauss steps aside from clinical England

Skipper Andrew Strauss said he was leaving England well-placed for more success following their crushing one-day series win over the West Indies.

Won by 58 runs here at Edgbaston gave England the three-match campaign 2-0, with one washout, after they'd massed up 328 for seven - their highest one-day international score against West Indies.

Andrew Strauss has opted out of next month's World Twenty20 Championship in England because the left-handed opening batsman does not consider he is a good enough player in that form of the game.

Instead all-rounder Paul Collingwood will skipper England in that tournament before Strauss, who is set for a age of rest followed by County Championship action, regains the leadership ahead of the first Ashes Test against Australia on July 8.

In the meantime Skipper Strauss can reflect on two victories by vast margins in England's brief Test series against the West Indies and a duo of equally convincing one-day victories over Chris Gayle's far from inspiring side.

"I like the way we were clinical right through the Tests and the one-dayers," Strauss told reporters after Tuesday's win.

"New players came in and did well but normally there was a level of consistency there which is very important”

"We are far from the finished piece at this stage but what I am really excited about is that the guys are very eager to improve.

England's latest Test and one-day series wins were achieved without injury-prone all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, ruled out this time with a knee problem which threatens his participation in the World Twenty20.

"We always want 'Fred' involved and it has been very frustrating for us, and more importantly for him, that he has picked up these injuries over the last couple of years or so," Strauss said of Flintoff, the star of England's 2005 Ashes series triumph. "What is absolutely crucial in the long term is having a good squad of players you can pick from so that you don't have to play the same XI in every game," Strauss explained.

Kevin Pietersen, England's other star name, missed the one-dayers with an Achilles problem but team officials remain optimistic that the South Africa born batsman will be fit for the World Twenty20.

In his absence, wicket-keeper Matt Prior took over at No 3 and on Tuesday he made a career-best 87 that saw him win the man-of-the-match award at Edgbaston.

Any disappointment Prior may have felt in not being selected for England's World Twenty20 squad has been tempered by the knowledge that a break now will help with his recovery from a finger injury. "There is this period now to get ready and feel as fresh as possible for the Ashes," said Prior. "To get that opportunity at three was fantastic, now I am looking forward at what is to come."

West Indies captain Gayle admitted the tour had been one of his worst experiences in international cricket.

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