England sweat over Onions

  • Last Updated: July 18 2012, 14:16 BST

Graham Onions has a hamstring strain and was unable to take part in England practice on Wednesday morning, on the eve of the first Investec Test against South Africa at The Oval.

Graham Onions: Doubtful for first Test

Onions, included in England's 13-man squad as an extra pace bowling option, joined his team-mates for warm-ups but was not involved in net practice.

He has not yet been ruled out of contention to play, but must be considered a significant doubt.

The Durham bowler was an outsider to be included as England's third seamer, in any case, with incumbent Tim Bresnan and also Steven Finn likelier choices in most minds.

There was other business to be settled for England this afternoon, with their 30-man preliminary ICC World Twenty20 squad set to be announced at 2pm.

The list will be notable for the absence or otherwise of Kevin Pietersen, whose on-off limited-overs retirement will probably depend on whether he can reach a compromise deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board in time to play in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka in September.

Captain Andrew Strauss has reiterated England are fully focused on beating South Africa.

Suggestions have been made that Kevin Pietersen's high-profile limited overs retirement has been an unwelcome distraction as England bid to defend their place at the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings.

However, Strauss has refuted claims the situation has affected morale in England's camp ahead of the first Test.

"The conversations that Kevin's been having are between himself and his representatives on the board," Strauss said on Sky Sports News.

"The players haven't been involved, the management haven't been involved and that's the way we'd like it to remain.

"It hasn't been a distraction to us, it's something that hasn't entered our thinking and it's allowed us to concentrate properly on this game.

"Kevin as much as anyone is determined to do well in this series and I haven't seen any signs in his preparation to suggest he's in any way distracted by what's going on."

Strauss is hopeful a compromise can be reached so Pietersen - overlooked for England's World Twenty20 squad - can represent his country in limited overs cricket once more but was at pains to turn his attentions on the immediate challenge ahead.

The three-Test series is between the number one and two sides in the rankings and Strauss is not under-estimating the Proteas.

"I certainly hope so but that's not something that we're thinking about at this moment and I'm sure KP is the same in that respect," Strauss added.

"At the moment it's all about the first Test against South Africa as it has to be.

"It's a very stern challenge. South Africa very fine side, they've proved that over the last couple of years and they'll be determined to knock us off our perch.

"There's a bit of extra spice to the series because it's the number one and two teams in the world but every series I've played against SA has been very keenly contested.

"I'm very excited about it, it'll be a good game for us as to where we are actually.

"The rankings say we're number one but we've got to go out there and prove it now."