Strauss looks to keep England show on the road
England captain Andrew Strauss will be in the unusual position among rival Test-nation skippers at the World Cup in that his major task of the season has already been accomplished.cricket Updated: Feb 07, 2011 09:51 IST
England captain Andrew Strauss will be in the unusual position among rival Test-nation skippers at the World Cup in that his major task of the season has already been accomplished.
Overseeing a 3-1 Test series win in Australia would be an impressive achievement for any touring captain but, for an England side starved of Ashes success 'Down Under' since the victorious 1986/87 team captained by Mike Gatting, it was a landmark victory.
But the subsequent 6-1 one-day series loss in Australia that followed left England fans with a sense of foreboding ahead of the World Cup, even if conditions in the sub-continent will be very different.
Typically, Strauss was restrained when asked if it would be better to play the one-dayers before, and not after the Tests, saying: "Wherever possible I think that's a better way of doing it."
And he was rather more forthright about England's one-day shortcomings in Australia. "We lost too many early wickets too often in the seven games.
"We didn't play very smart cricket to be honest. It's something we need to remedy very quickly."
Strauss's polite demeanour, on and off the pitch, allied to his expensive education at Radley, one of England's elite private schools, has often given him the appearance of a throwback to the days when amateurs were routinely enrusted to lead England teams.
But appearances can be deceptive, with the left-handed opener's solid style at the crease bearing little resemblance to the cavalier approach of another former Radley old boy and ex-England captain, Ted Dexter.
Nevertheless Strauss's method has served him well and he immediately settled into international cricket with a century on Test debut, against New Zealand, at his Lord's home ground in 2004.
However, being best known as a square of the wicket player and not someone who routinely lofted the ball down the ground, Strauss never looked quite so at ease in limited overs cricket and was soon dropped from the one-day side.
And he reinforced a perception for safe if unspectacular run-getting when he quit Twenty20 internationals and opted out of England's victorious World Twenty20 winning side in the Caribbean last year on the grounds his game was not suited to the format.
But the 33-year-old Strauss, whose steel as a player is not always visible but is there just the same, has bristled at suggestions he is a 'stodgy' opener and since 2010 has averaged nearly 47 in one-day internationals compared to a career mark of just under 35.
There were many who felt Strauss ought to have led England on the Ashes tour of 2006/07 after he'd impressed, in his own self-deprecating words, as the "stand-in for the stand-in" when both Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff were injured in the preceding English season.
But the honour was given to Flintoff for a series where England were thrashed 5-0.
However, probably no-one else but Strauss could have united the side after the falling out between then coach Peter Moores and skipper Kevin Pietersen saw both men lose their jobs.
Fortunately, Strauss has enjoyed a much-better relationship with the like-minded Andy Flower.
Strauss though has been repeatedly criticised by the likes of former Australia captain Ian Chappell, a noted tactician, for being an excessively cautious when his side are in the field.
But there's no-one England would rather have as their captain in the sub-continent.