Strauss to Proteas: Don't underestimate an England without Flintoff

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Cape Town (S. Africa), Dec.16 (ANI): Captain Andrew Strauss has warned South Africa and its captain Graeme Smith not to underestimate a Freddie Flintoff-less England during the Test series that begins from today.

"We have had to deal with Fred not being around quite a lot for a few years, so it's nothing new for us. As for him being the only player who can intimidate South Africa, if they feel that, then that's a good thing for us because we have quite a few very good cricketers who might surprise them over the coming weeks," The Mirror quoted Strauss, as saying.

"I am very keen for players to stand up and be counted in pressure situations and if you are not willing to do that you are not going to survive in Test cricket very long. As is often the case, the first day, the first session can have a big impact on the way the series goes. You won't win in it that session but you can grab the momentum," Strauss added.

Bookies are currently seeing England as underdogs, but there is every reason to share Strauss' belief that South Africa could be there for the taking over the next four Tests.

Smith's side haven't played a Test match since March when they lost a home series to Australia and there are more cracks in their team now.

Jacques Kallis plays, but only as a batsman and not an all-rounder which will severely restrict Smith's options when he is so used to having him in a five-man bowling attack.

The four South African bowlers will include Dale Steyn who is recovering from a hamstring injury, while Ntini will have to put in a remarkable performance to prove his 100th Test cap is not merely an emotional bonus for a player on the slide.

Strauss has his own selection dilemmas to consider but after seeing the green, patchy-looking pitch on Tuesday. England has to decide whether to play an extra batsman and going in with a four-man attack with seam support from Paul Collingwood and Jonathan Trott, or go in with an extra seamer in the form of Graham Onions or Ryan Sidebottom.(ANI)

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