Dubai: Andrew Strauss hopes his England side and Pakistan produce cricket good enough to take people's minds off the spot-fixing scandal.
With Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir in a British prison for conspiring to cheat for money during a London Test against England in mid-2010, the teams meet in the neutral United Arab Emirates for three Tests, four one-day internationals and three Twenty20s from Jan. 17 to the end of February.
On arriving in Dubai on Tuesday, England captain Strauss said it was time to move on from one of the worst scandals in cricket history.
"I think its important that both England and Pakistan players put what's happened before behind them and don't have any preconceptions that this should be a difficult series," Strauss said. "Let's go out there and enjoy our cricket, play some really entertaining cricket; it's bound to be highly competitive.
"We don't want to see any flare-ups, we don't want to see any off-field stuff happen. We want everyone's attention to be on the field and if we're able to do that then the game's better for it."
Strauss added they were happy to play whoever Pakistan fields, considering the inclusion of fast bowler Wahab Riaz and batsmen Umar Akmal and Imran Farhat, who were implicated in the spot-fixing trial but not charged.
Pakistan has played well since reaching the World Cup semifinals 10 months ago, beating Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe in Test series and drawing with West Indies.
England rose to the top of the Test rankings after sweeping India at home last summer, but hasn't played a Test since August.
"Pakistan is a very stern challenge, I think," Strauss said. "This particular challenge comes at a good time for us. We're confident, we've obviously been playing a lot of good cricket recently. If we're at all complacent, we'll come unstuck pretty quickly."