In brief: Strauss targeting boost for Ashes
Andrew Strauss admits England still have room for improvement as they bid for the series victory against Pakistan they need if they are to set off for Australia in the winter with confidence intact.
Strauss sees a potentially difficult four-match series against Salman Butt's tourists as an opportunity to continue a progression which began with last summer's wins over West Indies and then in the Ashes.
Anything but another success, against a developing team, who have just drawn 1-1 against Australia themselves, would be a significantly inconvenient dent to England's hopes of retaining the urn Down Under for the first time in almost 25 years.
"We're not necessarily where we want to be, but I think we're making improvements," said Strauss ahead of today's Trent Bridge opener, in which Dubliner Eoin Morgan is set to make his third Test appearance.
"My first series in charge we lost to the West Indies, then beat the West Indies and won the Ashes. There's a nice progression there, but there are areas we need to improve."
England have called up Tim Bresnan for his fellow Yorkshire all-rounder Ajmal Shahzad, after the latter aggravated an ankle injury.
England v Pakistan,
Live, Sky Sports 1, 11.0
Tour de France winner Alberto Contador will leave Astana at the end of this season after rejecting the offer of a contract extension.
Contador said he will study his options before deciding which team to ride for next season. In three seasons with the Kazakhstan-based team, Contador has won two of his three Tour titles, a Giro d'Italia and Spanish Vuelta title.
Peter de Villiers has been given a vote of confidence by his employers at the South African Rugby Union and assured that his job is safe.
The Springboks coach has faced a barrage of criticism following a dismal run of three straight defeats in the Tri Nations, which have left the defending champions playing only for pride in their remaining three games, all of which are on home soil.
De Villiers is set to meet with senior SARU officials to discuss the tour to New Zealand and Australia, but ahead of the talks he has been given full backing.
"There is a lot wrong that needs to be made right after the bad start to the Tri Nations," said SARU president Oregan Hoskins.
IRELAND'S James McGee yesterday crashed to yet another defeat against his bogey opponent Josh Goodall.
Third seed Goodall -- who was forced to retire against Ireland's Daniel Glancy in the first round of last week's Irish Open -- overcame unseeded McGee 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 6-2 in the first round of the ITF Futures event in Chiswick to record his fourth win over the 23-year-old Dubliner this year.