Updated: 01/08/2012 21:46 | By pa.press.net

Strauss focused on 'massive game'



Andrew Strauss is determined to ensure England bounce back from first Test mauling

Andrew Strauss is determined to ensure England bounce back from first Test mauling

Andrew Strauss knows even a series-levelling Headingley victory for England will have to defer to compatriots' medals at the London Olympics.

But speaking shortly before Tour de France hero Bradley Wiggins' much-anticipated cycling gold, on the eve of the second Investec Test, the England captain made it clear he will not mind one bit about conceding the limelight to British Olympians - as long as his own job is done too.

"This is a massive game of cricket for us, and the fact you might only get one page at the back of the paper rather than four is of no consequence," he said.

"We've just got to make sure we win this game. That is what our focus is on, and what it has to be on. If we lose it we lose that ranking as well, which will hurt."

It is an onerous task facing Strauss and his team-mates in Leeds, where they must somehow erase the misery of their innings defeat at The Oval and resist South Africa's fearsome challenge for their world number one Test ranking.

One more success, in this middle match of three, will give Graeme Smith's tourists a series victory already - as well as knocking England off a perch for which they strove so hard and have occupied for under a year.

Strauss confirmed 22-year-old batsman James Taylor will make his Test debut, and gave further credence to the outside chance of an all-seam attack and rare absence therefore for off-spinner Graeme Swann.

Those details of selection will, of course, play a significant part in the outcome at a venue noted for its dramatic turns of events and compelling cricket down the years. Strauss' priorities, though, are to ensure his team put The Oval properly behind them - and to lead from the front with opener's runs.

As for the Olympics, he will remain an interested and partisan observer - but one who has urgent matters to attend to elsewhere.

"Obviously when we're not on cricket duty it is great for us to watch them compete, and we're rooting with everyone else for us to get some gold medals," Strauss said. "But we've got to divorce the two completely; if someone wins a gold medal, that is not going to help me get a hundred tomorrow unfortunately."

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