England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's August 15, 2012

Strauss reasserts authority in landmark Test

49

Under normal circumstances, the camera crews crowding around Andrew Strauss might have been at Lord's to ask him about becoming only the ninth England player to appear in 100 Tests. In normal circumstances, Strauss might have expected to be asked to reflect on his career, his achievements and, perhaps his future.

But these are not normal circumstances. Instead Strauss has spent the run-up to an important game that will settle, for now, the title of the best Test team in the world, embroiled in an increasingly unseemly dispute between the ECB and Kevin Pietersen.

Strauss would not claim to be the most talented man to have played for England. He would not claim to be the most inventive of captains, either. But, through a long and successful career, he has, as John Betjeman put it, never cheated, never doubted. He has displayed the timeless virtues of decency, honesty and modesty. If captaincy is about inspiring by individual performance and tactical brilliance, then Strauss is an also-ran. But if it is about leadership and uniting and instilling common values and goals, he has been excellent.

He is an old-fashioned cricketer; a cricketer who soon abandoned any pretence at brilliance in T20 and who plays for honour and pride. But now he finds himself in a brave new world of texts and tweets, of PR and positioning, of multi-million dollar IPL deals and score-settling books. A world not short of cliques and arrogance. Strauss is a decent man in an increasingly indecent world.

But, in time, it may be reflected that the Lord's Test was the moment that Strauss reclaimed control of his England team. This was, after all, a team he inherited at a low-ebb for English cricket - the captain and coach had been fired and they were bowled out in a session Jamaica - and guided to the top of the world rankings. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Kevin Pietersen affair - and there have been faults on both sides and an apology on only one - Strauss' only fault has been an inability to unite the two warring parties.

Strauss has been impressive in the run-up to this game. He has made it clear that he will not tolerate selfishness in his team and explained how he was dragged into the situation by a need to protect the dressing room environment that had contributed to England's success.

But he also admitted that Pietersen was not the only one who might do well to reflect on their actions. It was the performance of a natural leader. When his playing career finishes, a role in cricket administration or even politics is surely on offer should he desire it.

"I feel a little bit let down by Kevin," Strauss said. "It's not a personal thing. I've always got on very well with Kevin. This had been a dispute between Kevin and the board over his availability for the IPL and a number of other points. But once the players became involved, I certainly become very protective of that environment; the values by which we live and treat each other. And I'm willing to remain vigilant about that going forward because I think it's central to why we've become a very good side.

"But I think if we are going to resolve these issues everyone's got to take a bit of a long hard look at how things have developed over the last couple of weeks and say: 'have we all done everything we can to avoid this happening?' We're all going to be required to look at it that way."

It now appears most unlikely that Pietersen will play in World T20. The squad was selected at Edgbaston last week and will be named on Saturday. There is now precious little opportunity for Pietersen to persuade his way back into the fold especially as Strauss has insisted that his focus will be entirely on the Test for the next five days.

It has been enlightening to read the comments on this situation from Pietersen's friends and family. Their loyalty is admirable and their words no doubt well-intentioned. But a little restraint would have been even more welcome and every rant from Bryan Pietersen, his brother, and Piers Morgan drives another nail into the coffin of Kevin Pietersen's international career. One lesson of this episode is that he needs to surround himself with fewer sycophants and one or two calmer, wiser heads.

"Cricketers are a pretty forgiving bunch. But we need to bring stuff out in the open. We can't just have it swept under the carpet and I've no idea at this stage how that's going to work out."

Amid the Pietersen soap opera, it could be overlooked that England must win this Test to retain their No.1 ranking. It appears highly likely they will recall Graeme Swann, with Graham Onions also vying for selection ahead of Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn.

The Lord's pitch contains, perhaps, just a touch more green than normal and the outfield bears deeper scars than anticipated from the Olympics. But this will, doubtless, prove another decent pitch and England will have to drastically improve their performances in the first two Tests if they are to pull-off a series-levelling victory.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on August 18, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    england cannot even stand a good fast bowling yet they claim that they are no-1

  • JG2704 on August 17, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    @phoenixsteve on (August 17 2012, 05:51 AM GMT) Australia are probably on a par with Eng and SA these days. M was booing like a baby throughout the recent OD series. I wouldn't waste time responding - you rarely/never get responses anyway.

  • RednWhiteArmy on August 17, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    Poor aussies, trying to convince themselves that they can compete with England, desperately hoping south africa can do what no australian team has done in England for well over a DECADE....poor tortured souls, wondering where it all went wrong.

  • on August 17, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh- wouldn't know mate, never been there.

  • bharath74 on August 17, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    Is that the reason why Stauss has been made the captain, just to reassert the authority?? probably yes. Personally i would love to see KP bat rather than boring and dull batting of Straus,Bell, Trott or Geoff Boycott...

  • Springbok111 on August 17, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    Are you guys serious? Blowing smoke after the first day and before England has even picked up a bat?? Let's discuss this after both sides have batted at least once.

  • CRICKETPOWER001 on August 17, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    Strauss it not yet over, still England as to face good south Africa bowling attack and particularly Strauss average this series is very poor, except bell and cook everybody in England played very bad, the most shocking issues is England left their star player Kevin Peterson Who scored century and have taken 4 wickets to draw the 2nd test match, its big challenge for Strauss to perform and show is batting ability instead of behind team mates performance... Miss KP at this crucial match.... England board its time to wake up and support ur players..

  • phoenixsteve on August 17, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    @the Brotherswaugh, marcio (and probably Jonesy2).... you guys seem to forger that 1) England are no 1 test ranked + T20 champions 2) They are playing a good side i SA - not second rate like the Aussies 3) Who holds the Ashes and are likely to hold them for the foreseeable future? Come guys wake up and see the class on show. It's an Aussie free zone! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Marcio on August 17, 2012, 3:18 GMT

    Straus did his job, but the main factor for the change here was not capatincy, but the weather and pitch conditions, which were perfect for the ENG seamers. The first test was dry as a bone, and the second a little overcast. This one wet and cloudy (so far). It amazes me when people can't see the obvious. This is a consistent pattern which can clearly be seen in England's performances over the last two years: great when conditions suit, ordinary when they don't. 300 will be good score on this pitch, as long as it stays overcast. If it dries out, then it will be short of par.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 17, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    @RandyOZ. Right again, hopefully some of these Poms will listen up & come to understand a thing or two concerning the game of cricket (but highly unlikely, they prefer to live in a fantasy land where ENG are deserved #1 champions who reside in Fortress England - what utter nonsense). @Hammond. Dream on, fella. At least Ponting tried to be attacking (to begin with), and at least he led from the front, both utterly alien concepts to Straussy. If ever there was a batsmen who's picked his opponents, it's Strauss. Never scores consistent runs against quality attacks. As for that 3-1 anomaly in the last Ashes - we'll return the favour, with interest, next June/July. Our lethal attack (check the recent test stats), who actually bowl with venom & pace, not in the 125-135's like your hapless mob, will totally dominate ENG batsmen, Cook included. No more easy runs. Our batsmen will also be dominant - a return to normality. PS - what's the weather like over there in ENG, enjoying a warm beer?

  • on August 18, 2012, 16:47 GMT

    england cannot even stand a good fast bowling yet they claim that they are no-1

  • JG2704 on August 17, 2012, 21:26 GMT

    @phoenixsteve on (August 17 2012, 05:51 AM GMT) Australia are probably on a par with Eng and SA these days. M was booing like a baby throughout the recent OD series. I wouldn't waste time responding - you rarely/never get responses anyway.

  • RednWhiteArmy on August 17, 2012, 19:23 GMT

    Poor aussies, trying to convince themselves that they can compete with England, desperately hoping south africa can do what no australian team has done in England for well over a DECADE....poor tortured souls, wondering where it all went wrong.

  • on August 17, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh- wouldn't know mate, never been there.

  • bharath74 on August 17, 2012, 9:32 GMT

    Is that the reason why Stauss has been made the captain, just to reassert the authority?? probably yes. Personally i would love to see KP bat rather than boring and dull batting of Straus,Bell, Trott or Geoff Boycott...

  • Springbok111 on August 17, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    Are you guys serious? Blowing smoke after the first day and before England has even picked up a bat?? Let's discuss this after both sides have batted at least once.

  • CRICKETPOWER001 on August 17, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    Strauss it not yet over, still England as to face good south Africa bowling attack and particularly Strauss average this series is very poor, except bell and cook everybody in England played very bad, the most shocking issues is England left their star player Kevin Peterson Who scored century and have taken 4 wickets to draw the 2nd test match, its big challenge for Strauss to perform and show is batting ability instead of behind team mates performance... Miss KP at this crucial match.... England board its time to wake up and support ur players..

  • phoenixsteve on August 17, 2012, 5:51 GMT

    @the Brotherswaugh, marcio (and probably Jonesy2).... you guys seem to forger that 1) England are no 1 test ranked + T20 champions 2) They are playing a good side i SA - not second rate like the Aussies 3) Who holds the Ashes and are likely to hold them for the foreseeable future? Come guys wake up and see the class on show. It's an Aussie free zone! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Marcio on August 17, 2012, 3:18 GMT

    Straus did his job, but the main factor for the change here was not capatincy, but the weather and pitch conditions, which were perfect for the ENG seamers. The first test was dry as a bone, and the second a little overcast. This one wet and cloudy (so far). It amazes me when people can't see the obvious. This is a consistent pattern which can clearly be seen in England's performances over the last two years: great when conditions suit, ordinary when they don't. 300 will be good score on this pitch, as long as it stays overcast. If it dries out, then it will be short of par.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 17, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    @RandyOZ. Right again, hopefully some of these Poms will listen up & come to understand a thing or two concerning the game of cricket (but highly unlikely, they prefer to live in a fantasy land where ENG are deserved #1 champions who reside in Fortress England - what utter nonsense). @Hammond. Dream on, fella. At least Ponting tried to be attacking (to begin with), and at least he led from the front, both utterly alien concepts to Straussy. If ever there was a batsmen who's picked his opponents, it's Strauss. Never scores consistent runs against quality attacks. As for that 3-1 anomaly in the last Ashes - we'll return the favour, with interest, next June/July. Our lethal attack (check the recent test stats), who actually bowl with venom & pace, not in the 125-135's like your hapless mob, will totally dominate ENG batsmen, Cook included. No more easy runs. Our batsmen will also be dominant - a return to normality. PS - what's the weather like over there in ENG, enjoying a warm beer?

  • Herbet on August 16, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    No friend of Piers Morgan deserves to represent England in any capacity

  • SuperSharky on August 16, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    Some people predicted that Andrew Strauss would be Graeme Smith's third English Captain victim, to loose his job.

  • zenboomerang on August 16, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    @landl47... Yes, it is a great pity that KP & Co brought Strauss's 100th Test match up in such undeserving circumstances... I hope the cricket is so good that that is all we talk about over the next week... Re: Illingworth - watched some of his matches in Oz & while defensive he was a aggressive defensive tactician & knew how to put the pressure on for prolonged periods of time... Wouldn't compare him to Strauss though - very different characters... Illingworth & Bishan Bedi were both v.g. captains from that period & couldn't compare them to any current captains - both tough & uncompromising - amongst my favorites...

  • Min2_cric on August 16, 2012, 9:54 GMT

    strauss is a way below par player....

  • on August 16, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    Big time congratulations to Strauss, despite everything going on in the last fortnight and other players around him showing their frustration and emotion, he's always kept his cool and comes out of it with class and integrity. Personally i would've gone with five bowlers because it's a must-win test and despite losing KP, they need to get 20 wickets. Prior batting at six, with Bresnan, Broad and Swann taking more responsibility in the lower-order. It's a shame Bopara lost his confidence and Morgan out of favour, there's alot of pressure on Taylor and Bairstow to step up and support the Senior Batsmen.

  • on August 16, 2012, 9:03 GMT

    Which other England captain has led his team to two ashes wins in the modern era? Ponting has managed to lose 3 in his tenure as captain. Australia don't even have the best openers in the world at this moment. Who cares if SA get the no.1 ranking they'll probably lose it when they play AUS, that I like to see.

  • bobmartin on August 16, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    @Posted by thebrotherswaugh on (August 15 2012, 18:49 PM GMT)... "Utter humiliation" Of course..after the last two Ashes series and the recent ODI's .and sliding down the rankings... the Aussies will know all about humilation.

  • Jack_Tka on August 16, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    I believe that the purpose of this article is to just write something about Strauss, as he's reaching his 100 milestone(100th test match). But looking at pure statistics and results, I would say he's an average opener and a decent test captain. Nothing beyond that. BTW I didn't understand what the heading of the article means. The author tried to attach flambuoyance to it in vain.

  • on August 16, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    Way to go Straussi....they need more like you in all the teams...

  • rickyvoncanterbury on August 16, 2012, 8:18 GMT

    I hope Strauss gets a ton in this test and England bowled out for 120, good luck Strauss, a real good captain, solid batsmen, he does not whinge much and has respect, maybe not by the keyboard warriors but surely by any bowling attack trying to get England 1 for. Better luck South Africa.

  • on August 16, 2012, 7:30 GMT

    I guess making kp the 12th man and asking him to carry drinks was not on the table..Just kidding:)

  • yoohoo on August 16, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    @MattyP1979 - What you and many like you don't understand is that the Indian Batting order was not looking to earn their stripes this time. That has all been done over the last 15 yrs. They were obviously on the last leg of their glorious careers, and were hoping to go out with a swansong. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be, their reflexes had slowed down just that little, and the bowling without zaheer was so inexperienced that it turned out to be a whitewash. But, to compare them at this stage to people who are yet to establish their reputations, and deride them, is stupid.

  • on August 16, 2012, 6:20 GMT

    Good to see discipline taking precedence over "stars" Thats what cricket should be !!!

  • sachin_vvsfan on August 16, 2012, 6:10 GMT

    playing 100 tests is definitely an achievement in this era. He is one of the few ENG players i respect a lot.

  • SamRoy on August 16, 2012, 6:08 GMT

    I think England can win this test because it is more than likely that South Africa will choke at the final hurdle. If SA and England both play to potential, England without Pietersen has no chance to win, Cook and Trott may help in drawing the match but aren't aggresive enough to win matches unless opposition has a batting collapse. As for England without Pietersen at World T20, England chances are close to 0 (less than Bangladesh) not exactly 0 as miracles can happen.

  • DeathKnell on August 16, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    @Hammond on (August 16 2012, 02:03 AM GMT) - <i>Strauss is several leagues above that below average muppet <b>(Ponting)</b></i>. That is the biggest joke ever on Strauss, special that came on his 100th test.

  • RandyOZ on August 16, 2012, 5:59 GMT

    The title belongs on Page 2; a truly hilarious line. Strauss and authority haha. Worse captain and worst opener in world cricket!

  • on August 16, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    Get on with it then, more cricket, less rubbish.

  • sharidas on August 16, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    England does have a good team with a fine bunch of players and if they concentrate on playing good cricket and do not get lulled by the media, they can continue to be side, hard to beat. More than anything, it is NOT the KP affair that will affect them. It is the media that they need to be wary of and it will do a lot of good if they leave their "twittering" aside for a while.

  • thetopofoff on August 16, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    The England attack has been a very good one for a few years now - but they are over rated, insofar as the likes of Mike Selvey on more than a few occasions has called them 'the best attack since the great West Indian sides of the 80s'...which really is over the top hyperbole, or to be blunt, a load of shite. I don't see England winning this test, and I see one of two things happening - England rallying and fighting hard despite all the KP distraction but still going down, or they collapse in a horrible mess under the pressure of it all and lose by another huge margin. I'm hoping for the latter.

  • Hammond on August 16, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh- I've seen under 10 captains with better tactical nouse and acumen than Mr Ponting. Strauss is several leagues above that below average muppet.

  • jagatr on August 16, 2012, 1:29 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh : I think you're being a bit harsh on young Taylor - he showed a lot of courage in the last test....KP probably wouldnt have got as many runs as he did if Taylor had folded like others who came in before him. I think the last test showed the boy's got grit - this test will show us if has the talent.

  • landl47 on August 16, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    Strauss reminds me a lot of Ray Illingworth. Illingworth wasn't the best player on the side by a long way and he was even more defensive as a captain than Strauss, but he built a very strong side based on team spirit and a refusal to give an inch. Strauss will go down as a very successful captain; his two Ashes wins alone ensure that, even without his success against India and almost 3 years without losing a test series. He took over a demoralised sde after disputes between Kevin Pietersen and the England coach led to both being dismissed. It would be ironic if the game that ended his captaincy (and at 35 that day can't be far away) was marred by a dispute between Pietersen and the England management. He deserves better than that.

  • RobTay14 on August 16, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    He is a good batter, but he must be a great captain to have made it 100 tests.

    Good luck Strauss, good luck England, it'd be great to see you tie it up with a win!

  • Mahesh4811 on August 16, 2012, 1:08 GMT

    I hope he celebrates this test with 100 in both innings. He really is a descent man and the one we call as 'Nice guy' :)

  • Manush on August 16, 2012, 1:03 GMT

    Though I am an admirer of Kevin,I feel he has definitely damaged his own career as also spoiled the atmosphere and focus in the English camp. He should learn to keep his trap shut if at all he comes back again. what a waste of talent !! As far Strauss,despite his limitations he has successfully gelled a competitive team where Kevin played a major role.In the interest of Cricket let us forget the bitter last few days and get on with the game and bring back Kevin as well. This is the another occasion like in West indies where the personal feud over takes cricket.Finally game and team are bigger than individuals how so ever one is talented !!!

  • MattyP1979 on August 16, 2012, 0:12 GMT

    Brotherswaugh. To be fair it is hard to judge Eng bowling attack against Aus batsman. I could probably take a 5 for, and Ind bowlers next series might even take wickets at less than 45's against them. But these are the same group that humiliated Ind 'star studded' batting line-up,, and only Dravid showed up with a spine. If Eng are over-rated people where do they fall in the pecking order? As for Bairstow/Taylor issue they would both WALK into the Aus side.

  • MattyP1979 on August 15, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    Jango. Many thanks. I think Eng have a good chance in Ind. Some lessons have been learnt since UAE (ihope). Will make for an interesting series thats for sure, but first things first we have to try and win against SA in English conditions....not the easiest thing to do.

  • on August 15, 2012, 23:08 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh - assuming (based on your moniker) that you're Australian, I would like to ask what it says about the Australian side when England's bowling attack ("the most over-rated of the modern age") were able to run through them again and again 18 months ago.

  • Paulk on August 15, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    Good to see the focus back to Andrew Strauss and the test match with the number of articles as well as the interview. Congratulations to him on reaching the milestone. Well deserved and he and his leadership (along with A Flower) has been instrumental in England's rise to the top although I do believe SA are the better team and will take over that spot. People talk about his lack of tactical acumen but leadership is more than that. Allan Border was a leader of men but not particularly for his tactical acumen. As for KP - I do hope things get sorted out. As Jacques Kallis said he is too good a player. I do hope he comes to his senses but at the same time the two Andy's should also introspect a little if there is anything they could have done better to make him feel less isolated in the dressing room. Regarding the contracts issue/IPL, it is true that of all the English players he has the most to lose by not playing IPL so perhaps the ECB should be mindful of that.

  • jango_moh on August 15, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    @MattyP1979... looks like u want an AUS or IND fan to comment, so here goes... Goodluck to ENG, hoping to see a good fightback from them.. as far as the IND series goes, we will have a few youngsters in the team, so its a good chance for them to learn, but i still doubt the ENG team can win a series in the subcontinent.... ;-)

  • on August 15, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    KP's problem seems to be that he is incapable off recognising bad advice. If, that is, he asks for any before he opens his mouth. Strauss,imo, seems a decent bloke with a decent batting record and decent track record as skipper. KP would seem only to qualify as same or better on one of those criteria.

  • priceless on August 15, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    I hope the game is a good one now the leading player on one side has been sidelined. Pity i took two days to watch KP but thats how it is. Maybe Bailey owes me a few quid for taking the gloss off my show. And then just maybe some of englands favorites will tell us just what happened that KP was spoofed by a friend of theirs. Suppose there is no way England's future captain will be forced to accept any blame.

  • MattyP1979 on August 15, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Strauss is a legend. Eng do not have the luxury of 'star' players we all know and love. It is the unity and hard work under him that has seen this team rise to the top of the rankinigs, I wonder if that is why we are slated so much. He has a decent record for an opener and sure he needs some runs but in this series they all could against a very good attack. As for the IND/AUS fans supporting their new favourite team I say that we haven't lost yet, if we do your old favourite teams will still get beat by this 'over-rated' ENG team.

  • ashes61 on August 15, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Strauss has played 99 Tests and skippered in about half. He 's an opening batsman and in those 99 Tests he has scored 21 tons & 27 half-centuries - each time going in first. And yet George Dobell suggests that Strauss, as a skipper, is an "also-ran" in inspiring his team by individual performance. A strange statement to make! Strauss is the sort of skipper who would certainly inspire me by example, as well as being the sort of bloke I'd go through a brick wall for. He has been the making of this England team. I can think of someone who occupies the very opposite end of the spectrum, although hopefully we've seen the very last of him. What a roar the England crowd will give Strauss when he leads the side out tomorrow at the very home of cricket - and what an endoresement of his and Flower's values!

  • KBCA on August 15, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    Why in the heck does Andrew strauss have anything to do with the T20 side?! Im not sure what will happen in the 3rd test, I suspect it will be a draw but I do know that without Pieterson at the world T20 England will be humiliated. Owais Shah should also be a definate for the T20 team at 5. England under Flower and Struass is like a club for the players they like.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 15, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    What authority? He's an uninspiring captain with the tactical nouse & acumen of a Mr. Ponting, but without the brilliant batting ability of the latter. Let's hope he gets a pair to celebrate his milestone. No KP in the team, and the old 'Hurler of Pies' Swann is back, so at least Straussy will get an early finish to the game; Saffers to romp home, probably by an innings, before the end of day 4. Could be over inside 3-days if the pitch has a bit of green to it, Steyn 10-for next to nuthin!And the trend will definitely continue in IND later this year. The most over-rated bowling attack of the modern age, no doubt about it! The batting has been propped up by Cook and KP forever, but that can't continue now. Who's going to step up - Bairstow or Taylor. Puuhlease, both very average batsmen on their best of days, may have done OK vs. Zimbabwe or Bangladesh, but SA will psychologically scar them, so have those sports psychologists at the ready (the whole team'll need 'em). Utter humiliation.

  • Hillaire on August 15, 2012, 18:45 GMT

    Excellent article, nobody is coming out of this well but what is increasingly clear is that KP is surrounded by bad advice. If anyone can steer this England team through these stormy waters then it is Strauss and I know every cricket fan wishes him well.

  • Cpt.Meanster on August 15, 2012, 18:40 GMT

    As a neutral, I wish this match is highly competitive and fierce. England have everything on the line here. SA only need a draw and that's the scariest thing. The perennial 'C' word still hangs high over them and hopefully they can come around. England must win to retain their no.1 ranking and that's why this is such a mouth watering prospect. I don't even like test cricket, yet here I am waiting in anticipation. I hope the ICC takes notes. These are the kind of series people want to watch. We don't need meaningless fixtures. Team should be evenly matched for a real contest. Not a no.1 playing a no.8 !! Anyway, here's hoping for a good game. Cheers.

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  • Cpt.Meanster on August 15, 2012, 18:40 GMT

    As a neutral, I wish this match is highly competitive and fierce. England have everything on the line here. SA only need a draw and that's the scariest thing. The perennial 'C' word still hangs high over them and hopefully they can come around. England must win to retain their no.1 ranking and that's why this is such a mouth watering prospect. I don't even like test cricket, yet here I am waiting in anticipation. I hope the ICC takes notes. These are the kind of series people want to watch. We don't need meaningless fixtures. Team should be evenly matched for a real contest. Not a no.1 playing a no.8 !! Anyway, here's hoping for a good game. Cheers.

  • Hillaire on August 15, 2012, 18:45 GMT

    Excellent article, nobody is coming out of this well but what is increasingly clear is that KP is surrounded by bad advice. If anyone can steer this England team through these stormy waters then it is Strauss and I know every cricket fan wishes him well.

  • thebrotherswaugh on August 15, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    What authority? He's an uninspiring captain with the tactical nouse & acumen of a Mr. Ponting, but without the brilliant batting ability of the latter. Let's hope he gets a pair to celebrate his milestone. No KP in the team, and the old 'Hurler of Pies' Swann is back, so at least Straussy will get an early finish to the game; Saffers to romp home, probably by an innings, before the end of day 4. Could be over inside 3-days if the pitch has a bit of green to it, Steyn 10-for next to nuthin!And the trend will definitely continue in IND later this year. The most over-rated bowling attack of the modern age, no doubt about it! The batting has been propped up by Cook and KP forever, but that can't continue now. Who's going to step up - Bairstow or Taylor. Puuhlease, both very average batsmen on their best of days, may have done OK vs. Zimbabwe or Bangladesh, but SA will psychologically scar them, so have those sports psychologists at the ready (the whole team'll need 'em). Utter humiliation.

  • KBCA on August 15, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    Why in the heck does Andrew strauss have anything to do with the T20 side?! Im not sure what will happen in the 3rd test, I suspect it will be a draw but I do know that without Pieterson at the world T20 England will be humiliated. Owais Shah should also be a definate for the T20 team at 5. England under Flower and Struass is like a club for the players they like.

  • ashes61 on August 15, 2012, 19:41 GMT

    Strauss has played 99 Tests and skippered in about half. He 's an opening batsman and in those 99 Tests he has scored 21 tons & 27 half-centuries - each time going in first. And yet George Dobell suggests that Strauss, as a skipper, is an "also-ran" in inspiring his team by individual performance. A strange statement to make! Strauss is the sort of skipper who would certainly inspire me by example, as well as being the sort of bloke I'd go through a brick wall for. He has been the making of this England team. I can think of someone who occupies the very opposite end of the spectrum, although hopefully we've seen the very last of him. What a roar the England crowd will give Strauss when he leads the side out tomorrow at the very home of cricket - and what an endoresement of his and Flower's values!

  • MattyP1979 on August 15, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Strauss is a legend. Eng do not have the luxury of 'star' players we all know and love. It is the unity and hard work under him that has seen this team rise to the top of the rankinigs, I wonder if that is why we are slated so much. He has a decent record for an opener and sure he needs some runs but in this series they all could against a very good attack. As for the IND/AUS fans supporting their new favourite team I say that we haven't lost yet, if we do your old favourite teams will still get beat by this 'over-rated' ENG team.

  • priceless on August 15, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    I hope the game is a good one now the leading player on one side has been sidelined. Pity i took two days to watch KP but thats how it is. Maybe Bailey owes me a few quid for taking the gloss off my show. And then just maybe some of englands favorites will tell us just what happened that KP was spoofed by a friend of theirs. Suppose there is no way England's future captain will be forced to accept any blame.

  • on August 15, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    KP's problem seems to be that he is incapable off recognising bad advice. If, that is, he asks for any before he opens his mouth. Strauss,imo, seems a decent bloke with a decent batting record and decent track record as skipper. KP would seem only to qualify as same or better on one of those criteria.

  • jango_moh on August 15, 2012, 21:47 GMT

    @MattyP1979... looks like u want an AUS or IND fan to comment, so here goes... Goodluck to ENG, hoping to see a good fightback from them.. as far as the IND series goes, we will have a few youngsters in the team, so its a good chance for them to learn, but i still doubt the ENG team can win a series in the subcontinent.... ;-)

  • Paulk on August 15, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    Good to see the focus back to Andrew Strauss and the test match with the number of articles as well as the interview. Congratulations to him on reaching the milestone. Well deserved and he and his leadership (along with A Flower) has been instrumental in England's rise to the top although I do believe SA are the better team and will take over that spot. People talk about his lack of tactical acumen but leadership is more than that. Allan Border was a leader of men but not particularly for his tactical acumen. As for KP - I do hope things get sorted out. As Jacques Kallis said he is too good a player. I do hope he comes to his senses but at the same time the two Andy's should also introspect a little if there is anything they could have done better to make him feel less isolated in the dressing room. Regarding the contracts issue/IPL, it is true that of all the English players he has the most to lose by not playing IPL so perhaps the ECB should be mindful of that.