Spot-fixing scandal and a forfeited Test have dogged past series between England and Pakistan.
Andrew Strauss hopes neither team will look back in anger
DUBAI // Andrew Strauss has urged the England and Pakistan teams to put the past behind them as they prepare to meet for the first time since the acrimonious series of 2010, when the spot-fixing scandal plunged the game into turmoil.
Cricketing relations between the two nations hit a low point when an undercover operation by the News of the World caught the then-Pakistan captain, Salman Butt, and his two fast bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, bowling deliberate no-balls for cash during a Test match.
Their previous series in 2006 also involved an angry incident when Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, took his team off the field in the fourth Test at the Oval after being accused of ball-tampering by the umpires, forfeiting a Test for the first time in history.
Strauss, the England captain, understands the forthcoming series - starting with the first of three Tests in Dubai on January 17 - will be a hard fought one, but hopes it will be free of controversy.
"I think it's important that both the England and Pakistan players put what's happened before behind them and don't have any preconceptions that this should be a particularly difficult series," Strauss said.
"Let's go out there and enjoy our cricket, play some really good entertaining cricket.
"It's bound to be highly competitive, but we don't want to see any flare ups; we don't want to see any off-field stuff happen. We just want everyone's attention to be on what's going on, on the field. If we are able to do that then the game is better for it."
The Pakistan trio of Butt, Asif and Amir were banned by the International Cricket Council and were handed jail terms by an English court in November.
England, on the other hand, have moved to the top of the Test rankings since that series of 2010, after a thumping 4-0 series win over India at home last year. Pakistan will be England's first opposition since their rise to the pinnacle and a busy 2012 follows with a tour of Sri Lanka and then home series against the West Indies and South Africa.
"To do well in the subcontinent's got to be a good goal of ours, to maintain our current position on the Test ladder but also to keep improving," said Strauss, outlining England's targets for 2012.
"So that will be an obvious thing for us to focus on, but we can't do it at the expense of ignoring the English summer ahead of us because both the West Indies and South Africa are going to be stern challenges for us.
"I honestly believe that it's dangerous for us to look too far into the future at this stage.
"These next two tours coming up are going to set the tone for what's going to happen for the rest of the year and it's important we focus on those first of all."