August 15, 2012

South Africa in England 2012

Strauss' 100th Test

Akhila Ranganna

The third Test against South Africa at Lord's will be England captain Andrew Strauss's 100th Test. To mark the occasion, Angus Fraser pays tribute to his former team-mate in the Independent. Strauss has surpassed everything everyone would have expected of him, Fraser says, and that is essentially down to one person – himself.

As I think back now, he didn't play innings [early on] that led you to believe he would score 21 Test hundreds. The only shot from his youth I remember is when he pulled Australia's Glenn McGrath on to the dressing-room balcony at Worcester. I remember a Devon Malcolm bouncer missing his grill and cutting his eye badly at Northampton. Off he went to hospital for stitches and within a couple of hours he was back out there batting with a white bloodied bandage on his forehead. He is a tough so and so.

In the past 17 seasons there have been many more gifted and elegant cricketers to play for Middlesex and England than Strauss. There have been more instinctive captains too. But if you want a person who is prepared to commit to achieving or producing something, then work tirelessly until that goal is achieved, then he is your man.

As Mike Selvey writes in the Guardian, Strauss and his team will head towards the landmark match with the controversy surrounding Pietersen's absence from the squad still dominating the agenda. Questions are certain to be asked once more at his pre-Test press conference on Wednesday when it ought to be Strauss's achievements as player and leader that are being celebrated.

That Strauss is holding up as well as he is through all this is as great a tribute to his mental strength as any of his batting deeds. In no other international sport does a player carry the executive responsibilities of a managing director. Strauss is responsible for his own performance but he has more far-reaching responsibilities towards the performances of the other players in his side. This, in itself, is onerous, even with the back-up he has.

Inspite of the third Test against South Africa being Strauss' 100th, and 50th as captain, the Pietersen saga will temper the mood, says Stephen Brenkley in the Independent.

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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