Strauss key to England harmony
That England now have a realistic chance of winning an Ashes series
in Australia for the first time since 1986/87 says much for the
leadership skills of Andrew Strauss.
England captain Andrew Strauss
His rise to the captaincy was not as smooth as that of fellow opening
batsman Michael Atherton - dubbed ‘Future England Captain’ early in his
career at Lancashire - but the wait appears to have been worthwhile.
Educated at Radley — the English public school that produced Ted
Dexter — Strauss’s batting approach bears few traces of the kind of
amateur style associated with ‘Lord Ted’.
Strong square on both sides of the wicket, left-hander Strauss took
to Test cricket instantly, making a century and 83 on his debut against
New Zealand at Lord’s, his Middlesex home ground, in 2004.
Such was the confidence of Nasser Hussain that the future of English
batting was in safe hands, he promptly retired from international
Strauss’s under-stated, pragmatic, style made him a popular figure
with team-mates and would serve him well when he did become captain.
Crucially, after the repeated humiliations of England batsmen at
Australian hands, he passed the acid test by scoring two centuries in
the 2005 Ashes series and, four years later, would make 161 as England
beat the old enemy at Lord’s for the first time since 1934.
In between those series Strauss’s place had come under threat in New
Zealand in 2008.
He’d scored ten centuries in his first 30 Tests but did not reach
three figures again in his next 15 matches. In Napier he made a first
innings nought but responded with an eight-hour 177 in a
Strauss’s first taste of the England captaincy had come two years
earlier when he memorably described himself as the “stand-in for the
stand-in” in the absence of the injured Michael Vaughan and Andrew
But the selectors went with Flintoff in the subsequent Ashes series
in Australia where England were thrashed 5-0.
England later opted for Kevin Pietersen in a bid to have one captain
for all three formats of the game.
But when Pietersen was effectively sacked in early 2009 after a row
with then coach Peter Moores, England turned to ex-Middlesex captain
Importantly, Strauss and new coach Andy Flower, the former Zimbabwe
batsman, were on the same wavelength, just as the successful partnership
of Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher, also a former Zimbabwe batsman, had been
during their time in charge of England.
A series loss in the West Indies - despite three Strauss hundreds —
was not the easiest of starts but the team did not splinter into warring
Although not given to bold public statements, Strauss is no pushover.
Asked during the 2009 Ashes if Australia had lost their ‘aura’ Strauss
said the current side had yet to acquire one following the retirements
of such stars as Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.
It was no more than a simple statement of the facts and one backed up
by events on the field where England, showing some of Strauss’s own
resilience, recovered from a fourth Test thrashing at Headingley to win
the series finale at The Oval.
LONDON, Friday (AFP)