England v Pakistan, 1st nPower Test, Trent Bridge July 28, 2010

Strauss's captaincy comes full circle

Andrew Strauss's captaincy career comes full circle when the first Test gets underway on Thursday morning, as he resumes his rivalry with the team he took on while standing in for Andrew Flintoff in the tempestuous summer of 2006.

And yet, when asked to recall his first series in charge, Strauss's initial reaction was to draw a blank. "My memories were that … I can't remember," he said - a curious yet understandable response to a series that ought, by rights, to have been one of the proudest moments of his career, but instead was marred by controversy and later overshadowed by personal disappointment.

"It was a bit of a baptism of fire for me," he said. "We played the better cricket throughout the series and deserved to win, but no-one wanted to see the way it finished. We obviously played very well at Old Trafford to win by an innings, and we fought hard at Headingley to get another victory, but it was all over-ridden by what happened at The Oval."

The Oval flashpoint came on the third afternoon, when umpire Darrell Hair awarded England five penalty runs after inspecting the ball and inferring that Pakistan were guilty of ball-tampering. Inzamam-ul-Haq's reaction was to keep his team in the dressing-room after the tea interval, a decision that prompted the umpires to award the match to England.

"If I had been the full-time captain of England at the time, maybe I would have been a bit more pro-active about talking to Inzamam about whether we could get back on the pitch," said Strauss. "By the time I did have the opportunity to sit down with them, Inzamam and the umpires were so firmly entrenched in their points of view that it became very clear very quickly that there was no way to get back on that field."

Aside from a one-off reappearance as Michael Vaughan's deputy the following summer, that would prove to be Strauss's last taste of the captaincy for two-and-a-half years. For the Ashes campaign later that year, Flintoff was reinstated after recovering from an ankle injury, but it would prove to be a disastrous appointment, with England crashing to a 5-0 defeat - the first Ashes whitewash for 86 years.

"It was only a week before the Pakistan series started that it became clear that Flintoff wasn't going to be fit for that series," said Strauss. "So I was thrust into it pretty much at the last minute and all I was trying to do was do as good a job as I could while he was recovering from his injury.

"I suppose because we won the series there was talk about who should be captain on the back of that, but I said at the time and I still maintain, Flintoff was the next guy in line to captain the side. He deserved his chance, and though we got heavily beaten in Australia, that would have happened whoever was captain."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 29, 2010, 9:22 GMT

    Wat the heck??? PAKISTAN didnt do ball tampering which was proved by the 88 cameras in the ground so YES, INZI did a gr8 job and honoured Pakistan and i respect him even more afta that game... STop bragging about that game, we all know NO BALL TAMPERING happened that game... P E R I O D

  • P Subramani on July 29, 2010, 6:16 GMT

    I agree with George 204 that Strauss is probably the best captain England have had since Peter May.Flintoff great as a player is simply not Captain material. He could never have been a role model to anyone except in regard to having a good time and acting irresponsibly. Strauss is a balanced individul like Collingwood and is sur to lead England to higher levels in cricket.England have a match winner Swann. I think they should bring in Monty Panesar to partner him. They could be creating a future spin twin combination in the way Lock and Laker were.

  • usman on July 29, 2010, 3:51 GMT

    Strauss is better than Vaughan. He gives chances to every one and has faith in all his team-mates.

  • Simon on July 29, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    @george204: yeah, I don't reckon many would deny that now, with hindsight. I, like you I assume, said as much at the time, but seeing how well Strauss is performing in the role now leaves very little room for doubt. Boycott may be right, he may not be the most naturally gifted tactician, or strategist, but he's a fine Captain nonetheless.

  • John on July 28, 2010, 20:47 GMT

    I agree with george204, and said at the time, that Strauss should have been captain in Australia. The English selectors went through a baffling couple of years when they chose first Flintoff and then Pietersen as captain, players who had neither the experience nor the temperament for the job. Strauss had proven himself as a captain at county level and was a far more level-headed and thoughtful individual than either Freddie or KP. That Australia tour was doomed from the start, with Vaughan injured and Trescothick suffering a breakdown. Flintoff, himself only just recovered from a serious inkury, should have been left to concentrate on his own game. England's improvement under Strauss and Flower shows how important it is to have good leadership in order to develop a strong unit.

  • Dummy4 on July 28, 2010, 19:34 GMT

    Lot have been said about 2006. Thats all history now. Both teams are relatively younger with new prospects, new scenario and times span of 4 years. We should be talking about present rather than past. I believe this will happen once series is underway but I am sick of hearing the same thing again and again.

  • George on July 28, 2010, 19:17 GMT

    I still maintain that taking the captaincy off Strauss in 2006 was a monumental blunder. Strauss is almost certainly right that whoever was captain, Australia would have won, perhaps it would still have been 5-0.

    Bu Flintoff was a lousy captain who could not maintain his own playing form in the role. He never believed in Monty Panesar who was playing well at the time (I seriously doubt that Strauss would have allowed Giles back in), he was tactically naive & a poor role model. Most of all, you don't take the captaincy from someone that has just won a series 2-0 (OK, 3-0 but we'll discount The Oval test).

    Still, justice was finally done - the captaincy came back to Strauss & he now has an Ashes win to his name.

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