England players back Strauss says stand-in captain Cook

England stand-in captain Alastair Cook insists his team have given their support to skipper Andrew Strauss's decision to miss the tour of Bangladesh.

updated: February 13, 2010 18:17 IST
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England stand-in captain Alastair Cook insists his team have given their support to regular skipper Andrew Strauss's decision to miss the forthcoming tour of Bangladesh.

Strauss was keen to rest ahead of a gruelling domestic campaign but the opener has been criticised by former team-mate Steve Harmison and several ex-England captains, while Australia legend Shane Warne claimed the decision was disrespectful.

Cook, who will lead in England's Test and one-day sides on the trip, is adamant it was a call Strauss made in the long-term best interests of his squad.

"It's a decision he hasn't taken lightly at all," Cook said at Lord's on Friday. "There's a huge amount of time and effort that has gone into that decision and it's a proactive move for him. He's looking ahead to what is a huge period for us over the next 18 months with the Ashes and the World Cup.

"He's decided he needs a break so he is fully refreshed and we are fully backing that decision. It gives opportunities for other players to step in and it gets a few more people used to international cricket.

"The amount of effort he and (coach) Andy Flower have put in over the last 12 months has taken a bit of a toll on him and he needs this break so he can have a full burst leading the side forward."

Essex batsman Cook, 25, can't wait to lead his country in battle, having previously captained England Under-19s in Bangladesh, and he believes his increased experience will benefit Strauss upon his return.

"I'm looking at this as a six-week block and not looking too far ahead," he said. "I'm very excited by the challenge and slightly nervous as well, but it's a great opportunity for me to learn about the role and give a good account of myself.

"Hopefully it will benefit me as a person and a cricketer. Creating more leaders in the English side will help Straussy when he comes back too, but to lead out my country will be thrilling and I will give it my all for six weeks.

"The Ashes and the two World Cups are our main priorities and this is a stepping stone of learning for this side on the subcontinent. It's a hugely important tour for us to do well in."

Although Cook has plenty of experienced players and coaches to turn to for advice, he intends on develop his own style of leadership.

"I speak a lot to Graham Gooch and know Andy Flower very well from my days playing with him and we have a very good relationship. But ultimately I need to be my own man and need to get my ideas out there as well," he said.

"He (Strauss) will be on the end of the phone if I want to chat to him too but we have a lot of experience in the squad. If you try to be something you're not it's very hard to keep that up and I'm definitely doing to do it my way."