Alastair Cook will soon be tackling some major issues in his new role as England's Test captain but his immediate focus is on squaring the NatWest Series against South Africa.

Cook was unveiled on Wednesday as the retiring Andrew Strauss' successor and will lead the side in a four-Test tour of India in November. Before that happens there are big decisions that he must now play a part in - primarily whether or not the out-of-favour Kevin Pietersen will be welcome in the squad and, secondly, who should partner him as opener.

But first of all he has three one-day matches against South Africa to prepare for, starting at the Kia Oval on Friday, and a 1-0 deficit to overturn. "It's been a bit of a strange 24 hours for me personally but I'm incredibly proud to be sitting here now as captain of England," he said.

"It's a huge honour for me and I'm very excited about the challenge. It has happened so quickly and we still have three very important matches in this series so not much changes for me after this press conference. It is back to trying to win a very important series against a very good side.

"After that series I will sit down with Andy Flower and discuss what we are going to do."

Cook admitted he had taken a back-seat role in the discussions regarding Pietersen's England future while Strauss was in position, but will quickly find himself thrust into a central role.

The England and Wales Cricket Board's managing director of cricket, Hugh Morris, has already said any talks with Pietersen will be held privately and Cook is content to toe that line.

"I've been on the outside for a lot of the saga but the issue hasn't changed," he said. "Clearly I'll get involved over the coming weeks but this will happen behind closed doors before we can move on."

The 27-year-old was more open to discussing the idea of bringing in a new opening batsman, but was not ready to identify particular candidates yet.

"It feels like all my England career I have walked out to bat with Straussy. That's a huge hole to fill," Cook said. "You take people for granted, don't you? "They are huge shoes we are going to have to fill, but we have to find him."