August 30, 2012

English cricket

Strauss among the best England captains

Devashish Fuloria

Andrew Strauss' retirement is a great loss to English cricket, writes Scyld Berry in the Telegraph. As a captain, Strauss worked out how to beat Australia at their own game while taking England to the top spot in Test cricket.

‘Challenge’ has always been the key word in Strauss’s vocabulary – he is looking for more of them, not fewer, in future life – so not surprisingly he was at his best against Australia. Not because he lived there for a couple of years in early childhood; not because he played three seasons of grade cricket in Sydney; but because Australia was the benchmark for the whole sport in his formative years.

As one of the three England captains to have won the Ashes both home and away, Strauss has confirmed his status as one of the very best in English cricket, writes Lawrence Booth in the Daily mail.

..his special achievement lay, as if in defiance of his public-school manner and early dressing-room nickname of Lord Brocket, in appealing to the popular imagination. For this he has the Ashes to thank, and it is here that he can lay particular claim to belonging to English cricket’s elite. Like it or not, the casual observer will forgive most things as long as England are beating the Aussies.

Angus Fraser in the Independent says that the timing of Strauss' retirement was mark of a man who wanted to be in control of his destiny rather than be hounded out.

I believe Strauss has not only been fatigued by the constant demands of making important decisions but by the scrutiny his batting has come under. He is an incredibly proud man and, as he said at his press conference, would never want to be viewed as a passenger. Strauss will not have enjoyed the fact that at times the performance of the England team seemed of secondary importance to his batting.

In the same paper, James Lawton writes that Strauss had delivered a masterclass in values by building an atmosphere of trust in the team during most of his rein and the onus will be on Kevin Pietersen and the new management to work out a solution in the best interests of English cricket.

Strauss forged with Flower a partnership that produced an environment in which complacency was dispatched as briskly as the worst of individual foibles – and for a little while it seemed that even the great Pietersen believed. After a dream-like double century in Adelaide on the way to the Ashes triumph, it seemed that nothing short of a gag could stop his praise of the culture imposed by Strauss – or the supreme value of genuine team spirit.

Vic Marks, in the Guardian, writes that Alastair Cook may have been an automatic replacement as the captain, but England will have to find an opener before they undertake the tour of India.

So far Cook has met every cricketing challenge that has come his way. He is not quite so innocent and angelic as he looks. There is a touch of steel behind the smile. But it will not be easy. A four-Test series against India followed by ODI matches there after Christmas are among the toughest assignments in cricket.

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Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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