Friday, September 7, 2012

Timing Was Right

Yet again a South African captain sees the back of a 3rd English captain after winning a test match on away shores, leading to a resignation. Andrew Strauss stepping down on Wednesday 29th August, the day of the Paralympics opening ceremony, completed an astonishing hat-trick for Smith. It’s a testimony to his leadership skills and longevity and a product of elongated stability.
Strauss led England in 50 tests, winning 24 and drawing 15. As a player he completed his 100th test, at the place where his test career started. It was round numbers to conclude with. He lost only 3 in 14 series as captain, 13 which were full time when he was handed the job in early 2009 after the KP-Mores fiasco.
 Strauss is England’s 3rd most capped captain, behind Vaughan (51) and Atherton (54). He has led England to the 2nd most test wins as captain, behind Vaughan with 26. As a successful and capped leader, surely the Middlesex man is up there in England’s finest 4 along with Hussain, Brearley and Vaughan. His highlight will be the Ashes back to back series victories, particularly the 3 innings ones down under in 2010-11 to regain the urn after 24 years down under and taking England to world number 1 in the highest form of the game the following year on home turf.
Not only was Strauss a fine player and leader, but a good respected role model, leader of men and ambassador for the world game. After 8 English summers, debuting and concluding at Lords in his 1st and 100th, the timing was right after a declining loss of form and surprisingly poor team results in 2012. He really did take a liking to the prestigious venue and made it his own.
Next year’s back to back 10 Ashes tests are nicely set up now, with Cook and Clarke leading in their first Ashes series. Both of who have demonstrated impressive credentials up to now in the opportunities they have been given. Clarke did captain in Punter’s absence during the last Ashes test match at the SCG though, but the Ashes had already been decided by then.
He was a strong back-foot player who loved cutting and pulling and favoured short pitched bowling. Strauss worked anything on his pads away and regularly picked bowlers off if they erred in line. The England captain was a hungry performer who set high standards. His slip catching was excellent, as safe as houses for most parts.
 He will be glad that he chose cricket over accountancy and can always look back at his test record with pride. He will be wishing his long term opening partner well and will be hoping he can consolidate on his achievements and take English cricket forward. As the Sabina Park test defeat under Strauss’s regime showed, things won’t be easy to start with.
It’s been a year of big retirements with Ramprakash packing up after over a quarter of a century in the first class county game, Dravid calling it a day, VVS joining him despite being named in the squad to take on New Zealand in the 2 test match series which has just recently finished and unfortunately Mark Boucher being forced to call time on his career after a severe eye injury during a warm up fixture at Somerset prior to the test series. Some important and influential cricketers have departed this year and Strauss is certainly amongst them.

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