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August 31, 2012
Features : Cook a man of substance and steel
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What They Said About : 'A good bloke and strong leader'
David Hopps : Dignified Strauss gets his timing right
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Andy Flower, the England team director, has said he will treasure his time working alongside Andrew Strauss and that he should go down as one of the country's greatest captains.
Speaking for the first time since Strauss retired as England captain on Wednesday, bringing a 10-year spell at international level to an end, Flower spoke with emotion about the three-and-a-half years they worked together as captain and coach which included two Ashes series victories and England's climb to the top of the Test rankings.
"He's a great man," Flower said in an interview with Sky Sports broadcast on Friday. "Very simply he's a great bloke, a very strong man with a good sense of what is happening around him and an understanding and empathy of other people which is a great quality. He was a kind person and often saw things from other people's perspective which is important in a leader and earned him a lot of close friendships in the changing room.
"He should be remembered as one of the great England captains. He has made other people better players and helped them grow as people, he has brought people together and people have been keen to follow him.
"We didn't agree all the time, absolutely, but usually we'd be sensible enough to negotiate a position. In the main it's been a very successful partnership and one I'll treasure."
Flower said Strauss' final decision to retire did not come as a great surprise but the initial conversations the pair had a few weeks ago had come a little out of the blue. He admitted he had seen the strain grow on Strauss during the South Africa Test series,but that he would still have backed him to come through if he had wanted to stick it out. During his retirement speech Strauss said retirement had been on his mind for a significant part of the year.
"When he first brought it up a few weeks ago we talked about why he might be feeling the way he was and I asked a number of question to see how he might few the future, to check on his motivation and hunger to do the job," Flower said. "You need an incredible amount of motivation to throw yourself into this and make it work. When he came back I could see he'd made up his mind and was comfortable with it.
"I definitely didn't see any lack of motivation. I'm surprised he said he's been thinking about it for that long. But he's 35 years old and is very aware of himself. That's been one of his great strengths, understanding how he scores runs and as a leader understanding how he interacts with others. He has decided the time is right and he's a pretty accurate judge of most things.
"I could see he was battling with himself but he's a strong bloke and never made a big show of any feelings of doubt. Of course I was slightly concerned but I thought he could battle through. I don't think there was ever a case of him being carried in any way. He always contributed in some way or other. I do know that in moving on he can feel immense pride in his contribution to English cricket and to the lives of the people he played with."
In a hint of the ruthlessness that Flower has brought to his time with England he made it clear he was already focused upon a future with Alastair Cook as Test captain.
"I will miss his friendship but we need to move on," he said. "Alastair Cook is taking over. I know him pretty well from his early days at Essex and we need to forge a strong partnership. I'm definitely looking forward to it. Alastair is a good young man. He's done a lot of growing up and he's a mature young man. He is without doubt a strong enough man to take on the challenge."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the 4th ODI between England and India at Edgbaston