August 23, 2009

Strauss's finest hour

He took over with England in turmoil, but in eight months has forged a team that has regained the Ashes. For Andrew Strauss there can be no praise high enough
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Listen to Strauss' press conference audio here

When the dust has settled on a tumultuous day at The Oval - and that could take some time, to judge by the sandstorms created by every delivery - one question will remain to vex the statisticians for as long as Test cricket survives. How is it possible that an Australian team boasting six of the seven leading run-scorers (not to mention all three of the leading wicket-takers) could possibly end up surrendering their most prized trophy?

The answer lies in the identity of the only Englishman to stamp his authority on either list. When Andrew Strauss pinged down the stumps from leg slip to remove Michael Clarke for a duck, he ensured, as a by-product, that his status as the summer's leading run-scorer could not be challenged. His tally of 474 runs at 52.66 was almost twice as many as England's next most prolific contributor, Matt Prior (261), but in the final analysis its worth was beyond calculation. Without Strauss's phlegmatic and unflinching solidity at the top, none of what transpired would ever have come to pass.

The same could be said, in vastly contrasting circumstances, of Strauss's contribution to the triumph in 2005. Though derided as Shane Warne's "bunny", he still emerged as the only batsman on either side to manage more than one Test century, including - in the corresponding contest at The Oval - a first-day 129 of such understated confidence that it slips under the radar in terms of the most significant ever produced by an England batsman. Nobody in the current side, not even Andrew Flintoff, is more deserving of this hour of glory.

"For me, I suppose it is better than 2005, because I've captained the side," said Strauss. "But we've moved forward from then, there are different personalities involved, and a different management team as well. But any time you win an Ashes series it's an unbelievably special moment for all of us. It's just madness. You don't know what to do with yourself. You don't know whether to scream, cry, jump up and down, or lie on the ground.

"It's one of those situations that you can't prepare yourself for, and you don't let yourself think about that moment in case it never comes. We were all just running around like idiots, to be honest. That's as special a moment as you'll get on a cricket field - 2005 will live long in my memory, and these two moments are as special as anything I'll go through."

"We went through so many emotions today. Hope, frustration, worry... despair at times when we didn't look like taking a wicket. You don't realise how hard it is to get over the line until you do actually get over that line"
Andrew Strauss on the tense final day

Flintoff will doubtless hog the limelight in the coming days, but Strauss will not care in the slightest, for it suits his methods to be underestimated - or at least, it does when he himself is certain that his own self-worth is intact. That was not the case 18 months ago, when he lost his place in the England side, ground down by a grim year in which he had been overlooked (in favour of Flintoff) for the England captaincy despite an impressive 3-0 victory over Pakistan, and then found out as an opener in the 2006-07 Ashes, when the late withdrawal of Marcus Trescothick left him feeling for his cover-drives in a bid to become the player he was not.

The following winter he was overlooked for the tour of Sri Lanka, and even when he returned for the subsequent tour of New Zealand - through the failures of others, most notably Ravi Bopara, rather than through any grand statement of renewed form - he scratched and chiselled for the first five innings of the series before rediscovering his joie de vivre with a gutsy, and ultimately series-winning 177, in the deciding Test in Napier. Beneath the public-school languor that gives an unexpected grace to his nuggetty batting style, there resides one seriously tough cookie.

And right now, he could hardly be more in command of his own performances. In 14 matches since the tour of India in December, he has racked up 1323 runs at 60.13 including six centuries - two in a single Test in Chennai, three in consecutive first-innings in the West Indies, and one, at Lord's in July, that ended a 75-year hoodoo and ensured that Australia spent the majority of a supposedly dominant series playing catch-up - a state of affairs that left them vulnerable to flashes of inspiration, not least the bowling performances of James Anderson at Edgbaston, and Stuart Broad on Friday.

"It seems such a long way off," said Strauss of his dark days in 2007. "I was struggling with my game and I was in a pretty negative mindset, worrying about my place in the side and all that sort of stuff. But I came back and was determined to enjoy every Test that I played, and that was a catalyst to turn my form around. I suppose the captaincy has helped my batting as well, but as we've demonstrated, six or seven months can be a long time.

"We went through so many emotions today," he added. "Hope, frustration, worry... despair at times when we didn't look like taking a wicket. You don't realise how hard it is to get over the line until you do actually get over that line." None of this, however, was ever apparent to judge by the demeanour of a man who learnt his body language from the inscrutable Michael Vaughan, and who had a direct role in two of the three most salient moments of the day - the run-out of Clarke, and the game-breaking catch of Brad Haddin at cow corner.

Transmitting an air of calm has been Strauss's single biggest achievement as England captain. The influence of Andy Flower is an undeniable factor - Flower's Test record demands instant respect, as does the sagacity with which he imparts his wisdom to a team of impatient young athletes - but in terms of on-field influence, nobody can begin to question the example set by their captain.

Who else could have risen above the wreckage of that two-and-a-half day defeat at Headingley, other than a man who took the poisoned chalice of the England captaincy at a time, straight after the KP-Moores debacle, when the hemlock had seeped into every inter-personal relationship in the dressing room, and whose personal reaction to being bowled out for 51 in his first official Test in charge was to reel off three consecutive scores of 142-plus, to ensure that such an indignity could not happen again?

Strauss was England's constant, and the summer's constant as well. When England dominated, at Lord's, Edgbaston and The Oval, so too did he, with a century and three fifties (only the last of which came in the second innings) to lay the very platforms in those games that Australia's own first-innings lacked. Only once did he arrive at the crease with his mind and methods scrambled, on that tumultuous first morning at Headingley, when he spent the final 10 minutes before the toss trying to ascertain the fitness of his wicketkeeper, Matt Prior, and paid the price for his unfocussed preparation. Without his steadying influence, his team-mates simply capsized.

"It feels pretty special to be standing here right now," he said. "It feels like a lot more than seven or eight months ago when I took over. There's been a lot of water under the bridge, because we were in a pretty bad state, to be honest with you. But it's an amazing day, and one that seemed a long way off after Headingley. But all credit to the guys, because they had to dig deep. An Ashes series forces a player to dig deep, and the guys have done that and come out fighting. It's a special moment for all of us."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • redneck on August 25, 2009, 23:48 GMT

    @Bizzaro, what are you smoking mate! england with help from their south african stars aswell as their drizzly weather in cardif and brimmingham and australian selector stupidity won the ashes 2-1. hardly a thrashing! a new era of south african, indian and sri lankan dominance? well hats off to south africa for ending an 18 year home undefeated streak by australia but you have to be stupid to write off the aussies espechally to put sri lanka ahead of them! they have beaten us once only and they were the first team to play us post warne and mcgrath they walked away with a 2-0 whitewash with neither test going past the first session on the 4th day and murali avg 100. yeah when pigs fly Bizzaro ill believe that! and as for england if they want number 1 they have to play overseas and win something i dont think they know how to do!

  • Seaking_alpha on August 25, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    Athough the scoreline in the end was the same as 2005, England should not make the mistake of beliving they have got the same strong side. While the victory then was achieved by a superior bowling unit overpowering the Aussies throughout the summer, the margin of victory this time was effecively that one wicket that did not fall in Cardiff. England have failed to maintain any consistency (Headingly!) and have overpowered only a marginally superior side at home. The real test of character will come in South Africa.

  • Bizzaro on August 25, 2009, 9:57 GMT

    Instead of merely fussing about like juveniles about the melanin-levels of the victorius England team. To do that will be to miss out on a rare moment in cricket history - the closing curtain on one of the most enterprising and devastating cricket nation in the modern era!

    To be frank, a mangled, out-of-sorts English team managed to thrash the Antipodean giants to usher in the new era where the balance of cricketing power rests with the likes of South Africa, India, Sri Lanka...

    The leadership of Strauss added composure and consistency where the failures of Bopara and the absence of KP would have exposed the petulant flinging bats of Strauss and Swann!

  • SummerofGeorge on August 24, 2009, 17:49 GMT

    ERR RA45 "! Will there come a time when 80-90% of the England side will be composed of non-English players? A team with Panesar, Bopara, Shah, Rashid, Mascarenhas along with the 'South Africans'' with the exception of Broad could become a reality soon.."

    While i agree to an extent with your South African comments, Panesar, Bopara, Rashid and Shah are English, Dimitri was bought up in Perth i think, but they are English, what seperates them from Broad, as far as i can see, is that they are from ethnic groups other than white.

    I hope your statement is not meant to imply that this somehow means they are non English, as that's nonsense at best.

    Anyway, well done England, and I thought Ponting carried himself with a lot of dignity under pressure in defeat and has vastly increased my respect for the man.

  • keeper_of_the_flame on August 24, 2009, 17:42 GMT

    RA45 - Given that Panesar, Bopara, Rashid and Mascarenhas were all born in England, in what sense do you consider them to be non-English. You're not suggesting that you have to be white to be English, are you?

  • surfrailay on August 24, 2009, 15:22 GMT

    Well done England! But please don't get over confident & start bragging of how you will now go & beat SA, India etc. Just be humble in this series win & be proud of how you played. It certainly wasn't an emphatic win by any means but you took the pressure of the last Test well. I cannot understand all the fuss over Flintoff's performance & he certainly wasn't the Hero so many are claiming him to be!!! Strauss & Trott won it for you ( & Broad as well ). I still wonder how the result would have been without the rain though, still, good to see Australia beaten!

  • RohanMarkJay on August 24, 2009, 15:13 GMT

    Well Done England! Beating Australia at cricket no matter how weak an Aussie side is is a great sporting achievement and England can justly be proud. Because we all know how much Australia absolutely hates to lose to anybody in Cricket and especially England. This will hurt Australia but no doubt they will bounce back hard in Australia in their own hot 40 degree plus conditions. This Ashes victory is as much to do with Strauss as anybody else, like Graham Gooch before him he lead with example and with the bat. The current Aussies are clearly not in the same mould as the all conquering Australian sides of the 1990s, that said an Ashes win is an Ashes win and is always a great sporting achievement. Test Cricket is hard. So England must savour this win. However England away from England are known to struggle on winter tours. So it will be interesting to see how this England side performs on Winter tours when they are away from home and much attention at home is focussed on football.

  • Caro19 on August 24, 2009, 15:03 GMT

    >>>>> RA45: "Will there come a time when 80-90% of the England side will be composed of non-English players? A team with Panesar, Bopara, Shah, Rashid, Mascarenhas along with the 'South Africans'' ..."

    Just because they're not white doesn't mean they're not English! Panesar, Mascarenhas, Bopara and Rashid were ALL born in England! Watch what you say.

  • The_Abb on August 24, 2009, 14:31 GMT

    "England is now counting on the South African talents to win Ashes. 1995 its Kev Peterson who made it happen and this time its again pool of South African talents made it happen (Strauss and Trott) Of course with the exception of Freddie who is English all round talent after Ian Botham era." What a surprise. A bitter indian!

  • ripsnorter19 on August 24, 2009, 14:15 GMT

    RA45, I would just like to point out that Panesar, Bopara and Rashid were born in Luton, London and Bradford respectively. You seem to be implying that non-white means non-English.

  • redneck on August 25, 2009, 23:48 GMT

    @Bizzaro, what are you smoking mate! england with help from their south african stars aswell as their drizzly weather in cardif and brimmingham and australian selector stupidity won the ashes 2-1. hardly a thrashing! a new era of south african, indian and sri lankan dominance? well hats off to south africa for ending an 18 year home undefeated streak by australia but you have to be stupid to write off the aussies espechally to put sri lanka ahead of them! they have beaten us once only and they were the first team to play us post warne and mcgrath they walked away with a 2-0 whitewash with neither test going past the first session on the 4th day and murali avg 100. yeah when pigs fly Bizzaro ill believe that! and as for england if they want number 1 they have to play overseas and win something i dont think they know how to do!

  • Seaking_alpha on August 25, 2009, 17:33 GMT

    Athough the scoreline in the end was the same as 2005, England should not make the mistake of beliving they have got the same strong side. While the victory then was achieved by a superior bowling unit overpowering the Aussies throughout the summer, the margin of victory this time was effecively that one wicket that did not fall in Cardiff. England have failed to maintain any consistency (Headingly!) and have overpowered only a marginally superior side at home. The real test of character will come in South Africa.

  • Bizzaro on August 25, 2009, 9:57 GMT

    Instead of merely fussing about like juveniles about the melanin-levels of the victorius England team. To do that will be to miss out on a rare moment in cricket history - the closing curtain on one of the most enterprising and devastating cricket nation in the modern era!

    To be frank, a mangled, out-of-sorts English team managed to thrash the Antipodean giants to usher in the new era where the balance of cricketing power rests with the likes of South Africa, India, Sri Lanka...

    The leadership of Strauss added composure and consistency where the failures of Bopara and the absence of KP would have exposed the petulant flinging bats of Strauss and Swann!

  • SummerofGeorge on August 24, 2009, 17:49 GMT

    ERR RA45 "! Will there come a time when 80-90% of the England side will be composed of non-English players? A team with Panesar, Bopara, Shah, Rashid, Mascarenhas along with the 'South Africans'' with the exception of Broad could become a reality soon.."

    While i agree to an extent with your South African comments, Panesar, Bopara, Rashid and Shah are English, Dimitri was bought up in Perth i think, but they are English, what seperates them from Broad, as far as i can see, is that they are from ethnic groups other than white.

    I hope your statement is not meant to imply that this somehow means they are non English, as that's nonsense at best.

    Anyway, well done England, and I thought Ponting carried himself with a lot of dignity under pressure in defeat and has vastly increased my respect for the man.

  • keeper_of_the_flame on August 24, 2009, 17:42 GMT

    RA45 - Given that Panesar, Bopara, Rashid and Mascarenhas were all born in England, in what sense do you consider them to be non-English. You're not suggesting that you have to be white to be English, are you?

  • surfrailay on August 24, 2009, 15:22 GMT

    Well done England! But please don't get over confident & start bragging of how you will now go & beat SA, India etc. Just be humble in this series win & be proud of how you played. It certainly wasn't an emphatic win by any means but you took the pressure of the last Test well. I cannot understand all the fuss over Flintoff's performance & he certainly wasn't the Hero so many are claiming him to be!!! Strauss & Trott won it for you ( & Broad as well ). I still wonder how the result would have been without the rain though, still, good to see Australia beaten!

  • RohanMarkJay on August 24, 2009, 15:13 GMT

    Well Done England! Beating Australia at cricket no matter how weak an Aussie side is is a great sporting achievement and England can justly be proud. Because we all know how much Australia absolutely hates to lose to anybody in Cricket and especially England. This will hurt Australia but no doubt they will bounce back hard in Australia in their own hot 40 degree plus conditions. This Ashes victory is as much to do with Strauss as anybody else, like Graham Gooch before him he lead with example and with the bat. The current Aussies are clearly not in the same mould as the all conquering Australian sides of the 1990s, that said an Ashes win is an Ashes win and is always a great sporting achievement. Test Cricket is hard. So England must savour this win. However England away from England are known to struggle on winter tours. So it will be interesting to see how this England side performs on Winter tours when they are away from home and much attention at home is focussed on football.

  • Caro19 on August 24, 2009, 15:03 GMT

    >>>>> RA45: "Will there come a time when 80-90% of the England side will be composed of non-English players? A team with Panesar, Bopara, Shah, Rashid, Mascarenhas along with the 'South Africans'' ..."

    Just because they're not white doesn't mean they're not English! Panesar, Mascarenhas, Bopara and Rashid were ALL born in England! Watch what you say.

  • The_Abb on August 24, 2009, 14:31 GMT

    "England is now counting on the South African talents to win Ashes. 1995 its Kev Peterson who made it happen and this time its again pool of South African talents made it happen (Strauss and Trott) Of course with the exception of Freddie who is English all round talent after Ian Botham era." What a surprise. A bitter indian!

  • ripsnorter19 on August 24, 2009, 14:15 GMT

    RA45, I would just like to point out that Panesar, Bopara and Rashid were born in Luton, London and Bradford respectively. You seem to be implying that non-white means non-English.

  • 2.14istherunrate on August 24, 2009, 13:57 GMT

    I have to say that was so much a triumph for Andrew Strauss after the Moores-KP bust up after India. Firstly he has always led from the front, playing like Gooch did as captain,though being more successful as a captain. That innings in the 2nd innings of the 5th Test was like the one Smith played to take SA to victory in the penultimate Test last year-on a greatly elevated level. His batting has come on leaps and bounds-joyful almost at times eg Bridgetown, or deeply technical and responsible at other times. Without KP someone had to do the hard yards and Strauss has done them brilliantly.Secondly he has really grown on the field as certain bits of inspiration and intuition have shown, eg begiining day 3 at Edgbaston with Onions, starting with Broad after lunch on Friday at the Oval. Thirdly he has made the whole team much more steely and hard and able to pick itself up after disaster.Even Bell looked more prepared to look the Aussies in the eye and give it back. Awesomely played.

  • 2.14istherunrate on August 24, 2009, 13:34 GMT

    Well done to England with that cobbled together team.A brillaint win in the end saw us regain the Ashes. It will have silenced a few Aussies who were all over us in series gone past.I can remember that losing the ashes in1997 was equatable to the whole nation not having the correct moral fibre or being fit to walk this earth, as opposed to the perfectness of our Aussie masters. Well the boot is on the other foot now,firmly and i won't mind the odd Antipodean running away to hide from us lot. They wiould do well not to be so arrogant in their times of triumph in future, and to remember that those you do wrong to on the way up are the same people who meet you on the way down. Well done to England for sticking it to them hard, as well as for showing them back in 2005 that there is a gentlemanly way to do things should they ever want to play it that way. Captain Fantastic and his team without the stars being properly there have done brilliantly.

  • Robeli on August 24, 2009, 13:31 GMT

    Hilditch said the following: "Jamie Cox was the selector on duty, but everybody misread the wicket, from our entire playing group, captain and coach included, and that just happens." If that's the case, then the Australians deserved to be ranked 4th. What he is saying that not one - not even ONE person thought otherwise. Sounded like the first person who looked at the pitch said it is seamers pitch and the rest just followed 'yes, yes, yes...' LOL!

  • StJohn on August 24, 2009, 12:36 GMT

    I think Strauss is a very good captain and a great batsman. I think the dip in his form from late 2006 was largely down to being (wrongly) overlooked for the captaincy and also the unfortunate absence of Trescothick. But the indications from Strauss's previous incarnation as captain were that, unlike many others, including Vaughan, his batting tends to improve with the pressure of captaincy - which I think is very valauable and all-too-often overlooked by selectors when picking captains. His form over the last 8 months tends to support that view. Tough challenges lay ahead, and the pending series in South Africa will give a better indication of where England are as a Test team than this series. But onwards and upwards, Andrew Strauss - very well played and you thoroughly deserve this success! Keep it tight at the top!

  • Sudzz on August 24, 2009, 12:32 GMT

    This is at all those that are asking England to travel and beat other nations. Well to tell you the sad truth, taken the Englishmen out of their home grounds and home climates even as far as Cardiff and they are like fish out of water.

    Therefore to expect England to travel to India and beat them or beat SAF in SAF etc is a pipe dream that will end with a sound dousing of all hopes....

  • Sudzz on August 24, 2009, 12:29 GMT

    To me this was probably the most mediocre of all Ashes series that I have watched or followed. The quality of cricket was good most of the time but never rose to being the best and thankfully never degenerated into something really bad.

    But the thing to note is that Strauss for all the praise that he is getting and some of it rightly was aided no end by some very wayward bowling, dropped catches etc. Now one may argue that its the rub of the green etc..

    In a Ashes series one expects either abject capitulation due incredibly superior firepower or a exhilarating contest where equals duel. This series was neither it was more like a late 1980's Aussie side competing against a similar vintage Indian side.

    That said even the strategic approach to the whole series was not something that one can rave about much.

    Therefore while this is a victory that is rare for the Englishmen, they would do well to realise that this does not mean that can put one over many other teams.

  • Sudzz on August 24, 2009, 12:03 GMT

    To me this was probably the most mediocre of all Ashes series that I have watched or followed. The quality of cricket was good most of the time but never rose to being the best and thankfully never degenerated into something really bad.

    But the thing to note is that Strauss for all the praise that he is getting and some of it rightly was aided no end by some very wayward bowling, dropped catches etc. Now one may argue that its the rub of the green etc..

    In a Ashes series one expects either abject capitulation due incredibly superior firepower or a exhilarating contest where equals duel. This series was neither it was more like a late 1980's Aussie side competing against a similar vintage Indian side.

    That said even the strategic approach to the whole series was not something that one can rave about much.

    Therefore while this is a victory that is rare for the Englishmen, they would do well to realise that this does not mean that can put one over many other teams.

  • Chris_Howard on August 24, 2009, 11:57 GMT

    The most fascinating thing is Australia's two losses came after their two best performances. i.e. after Cardiff when they were within an ace of an innings victory; and after Leeds when they did score an innings victory.

    Twice they squandered that theoretical momentum thing. So either Australia were hopeless at killing off a wounded opponent, or England were exceptional at regrouping.

    Well done, England.

  • SidArthur on August 24, 2009, 11:52 GMT

    Yes I agree with Chennai_Voice. England and South Africa have to field a combined team to beat Australia, although Pietersen has always been overrated. Anyway, why don't some of the Springboks come to Australia to play cricket, we could use some of them. Not enough money I suppose. Kepler Wessels was the only one I remember.

  • RA45 on August 24, 2009, 11:48 GMT

    Congratulations England for just managing to play the better cricket! To expect the Aussies to cruise to victory without their retired legends such as McGrath, Warne, Hayden, Gilchrist, Langer, Martyn, etc in such a short time is unrealistic but they will get better. There is no doubt that there is talent (perhaps on par with South Africa) but just needs time to achieve consistency. Speaking of SA, all English fans should be thanking South Africa for providing players such as KP, Trott & Strauss to help England regain the Ashes! Will there come a time when 80-90% of the England side will be composed of non-English players? A team with Panesar, Bopara, Shah, Rashid, Mascarenhas along with the 'South Africans'' with the exception of Broad could become a reality soon...lol p.s. Umpiring has been terrible this whole series and really needs improving!

  • SidArthur on August 24, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    Poms didn't win the Ashes, the Aussies lost them. Why? because when they needed nerves of steel in the first innings of the last Test, they discovered they were made of glass. It was their big moment, and they were found wanting. Forget about the selection of the team, that played a minor role. Ponting built himself up too much for the game, his nerves were a wreck when he went out to bat. So were Hussey's, although he lost his a long time ago. Poms are just as fragile as the Aussies--in the same situation they would have done the same. Strauss doesn't care about any of this and so he shouldn't. A win is a win, he'll take it. Well done Poms.

  • MartinAmber on August 24, 2009, 11:22 GMT

    TheDoctor394: I'm not grumbling about Flintoff. I thought he was a very good Test cricketer, and touched greatness for 2-3 years (not just one series). I am grumbling about the Freddie obsession in our ignorant media. Why, today there are clamours (in the tabloids) for him to be knighted! This is patently ridiculous. Botham, for instance, was knighted as much for his tireless and hugely admirable charity work as for cricket. Personally I think no sportsman should be knighted until several years after their complete retirement, but that's a separate argument. Another article suggests he was "THE hero" of the match, which is almost as absurd. It wouldn't be so bad if there wasn't an obvious symbiotic relationship between Flintoff inc and the media, and if he hadn't gone to the IPL in April.

    Bayman, I take your point about bad umpiring in this series. It has been overwhelmingly in England's favour.

  • MaheshSPanicker on August 24, 2009, 10:43 GMT

    England has done it, Australians are pushed to their 3rd series loss in the last 9 months. proves what happened in SA was an exception rather than the normal Australian rule. Ponting yet again proved how overrated a captain he's, and on the other hand Andrew Strauss proved you can lead from the front, and you don't always need a 'michael' to captain the side. he was dropped unfarely in 07, and he too contributed to the situation by playing like the batsman he isn't. well done England, now as Straussi said this's the start, let KP come back, and then the batting can be stronger. Bell has to improve a lot, and the bowling has to be more consistent. only they can continue to challenge sides like SA and India.

  • howizzat on August 24, 2009, 10:02 GMT

    Andrew Strauss has proved himself as England's long term future captain like Gream Smith for SA. Apart from being one of the finest test batsman of modern day cricket, shrewd and temperamental captaincy is an added feature. Wins against WI and AUS have put Andrew firmly on the saddle. He can concentrate more as of now he plays only TESTS. On this stepping stone England can easily build thier test team for years to come. Even Flintoff may rethink on his return provided he has no injury scars. Now ENGLAND - SOUTH AFRICA test series should become very exciting. Should England win, and then beat INDIA in India, then ENGLAND should be Numero Uno in test cricket. The English skipper deserves congratulations as after all he has beaten the PUNTER!!

  • CountKeelo on August 24, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    RELIEVED. Been a staunch England supporter always-there have been scores of disappointments (96/99/03/07 world cup performances, ashes defeats every other year and heavy defeats in the one day series that usually follow, losses to Zimbabwe in the one-dayers in 96/97 ,Olonga's 6/19 in 2000, defeat to NZ in 99, the 51 allout against WI in Kingston in 09). Some bright moments too (Hick's 3 hundreds in 99/00 ODI series, Butcher's 173, Headley's 7 for, Gough's hattrick etc) , but were fleeting moments of glory.

    But there's been more to cheer about after 2000, 4 series-wins in a row under Hussain, Vaughan's big scores, 2-2 against SA in 03, 04 wins in SA and Hoggard's 7 for, 05 ashes and now, 09 ashes.

    Strong captains (Hussain, Vaughan and Strauss) , tactician coaches and some reliable players(Thorpe, Tresco, KP, Flintoff, Prior) responsible. That England's lower order gets lots of runs these days is a big factor too.

    Will continue to support England quietly as I've always been.

  • vinchester on August 24, 2009, 9:13 GMT

    NOT in any way detracting from Andrew's effort but i Think Rickyhelped in abig way. Even a kid would say the selection of the team for the fifth test was wrong. why were Lee & Hauritz excluded is beyond belief. Stuart Clarke was a passenger even in the second innings of the fourth test . If Ricky did not have confidence in Nathan , if I was in his shoes I would have asked Warney to help out after consulting The selectors. . The 2 crucial runouts werel errors.which should not have been made in a test match. The umpiring was also substandardand more decisions went against the Aussies. England is a good test side only in its backyard as we will soon see. .

  • AK.47 on August 24, 2009, 8:09 GMT

    The best result of a series between any 2 countries in a long time... even though I am neither a Pom nor a Kangaroo. It looked like Aussies were over-confident as usual. They did amazing things, at will, in the past. They had a team to do it. Right now they just don't have a world-beating team. Its definitely the end of an era. Ponting can sulk for the rest of his career.

  • Woody111 on August 24, 2009, 7:27 GMT

    Well done Strauss - the only English player to perform consistently (well, Prior too I guess). This series showed that great performances at the right times will win you a series - Onions and Anderson, Flintoff, Strauss and Broad did what their team needed when they needed. While it's always popular to bag selectors, Hauritz was there at Cardiff and we couldn't get numbers 10 and 11 out. If you want to pick one moment when Aus missed out it was in Wales. England performed at Lords, didn't rock up for Headingly but came back roaring to roll Aus at the Oval. I think this was more important for England than 05 in some ways. Sure they tamed Aus greats in 05 but considering the off-field stuff this year it's remarkable Strauss got everyone together. Bopara failed and he lost the 'best' batsman early (KP). Trott is a real find, Broad showed promise and will certainly make valuable runs. I can't wait til 10/11.

  • Avid.Cricket.Watcher on August 24, 2009, 7:22 GMT

    Strauss certainly deserves all the accolades coming his way. He's been England's rock at the top (of the batting order and leadership) for the last year or so. He may not yet be as skilled tactically as Vaughn or Hussain, but he is proving second to none in character. A worthy Man of the Series.

    For Australia, I agree with redneck that it's about time the selectors (and also captain & coach) realize the importance of a frontline spinner. If the loss of the Ashes doesn't wake them up to this fact, nothing will.

  • sammykent on August 24, 2009, 6:11 GMT

    Lets not get hung up on the umpires and the changing face of the Australian bowling attack. It was not long ago that Australia could field two world beating sides with ease. Australia has come back to the pack a bit but England have improved immensely. As soon as some leadership emerged and some definite goals were put in place the English players thrived. The English selectors also triumphed when they employed Onions, Bell, Harmison and above all Trott. The Australian selectors left Michael Hussey out of the side for years as he compiled a mountain of runs. The English selectors did not hesitate to ask Trott to debut in the most stressful way possible and as a result may have found a real rock of a middle order batsman (a Collingwood replacement?). The best thing about watching this series was to see the Poms fired up, excited and driven (they can still get despondent but it is lessening). Seeing Trott get a ton on debut was also very touching.

  • nair_ottappalam on August 24, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    KUDOS ENGLAND. Strauss & Co have done a wonderful teamwork by defeating the Aussies who are still no novices. With Ponting (Comparable to Sachin), Clarke and Hussey along with talents like Katcih, Watson & North they are a formidable batting side. Bowling lacks penetration. England on the other hand have shown great character in developing a bench of bowlers, remember no Sidebottom and Onions in the team. England could have played Panesar at oval to make things happen earlier. With Pietersen coming back to the middle order, their batting also looks excellent and will give South Africa a fight for their money. Strauss, Cook, Collingwood and Prior are good batsmen and the confidence shown by Trott in the Oval test is just a warning for the Proteas. By bending the Aussies on their knees, England have given Freddie Flintoff a fitful send off. Unfortunately Freddie has been injury porne of late. Once again all marks for England.

  • redneck on August 24, 2009, 5:47 GMT

    as one annoyed aussie cricket supporter i have one thing to say to cricket australia, hilditch and co must go!!! to not pick a spinner on the oval wicket was stupid! thats the third series in a year where they havent given ponting the tools required to win a test match! yes that bowling attack worked well in headingly but the ovals a different pitch it needed a spinner! really 2 innings lost the ashes for aus. they say its hard to take and they'll learn from this! yeah what did they learn from india and south africa series losses????? aparently not much! as they still back all out pace attacks to take 20 wickets on dry dusty wickets!!!!! we need to select the team with the pitch they are about to play on in mind so this can be avoided in future! please learn the lesson this time! 3rd times the charm as they say!

  • gzawilliam on August 24, 2009, 4:27 GMT

    I think strauss should thank Mitchell Johnson for this ashes win. Before the series strauss was obviously a bit scared of johnson's prestige. But Johnson showed what he's made of in this series.. He's very underdeveloped.. Can not swing the ball on his own. Only the ball swings for him when conditions suit.

    Strauss has improved enormously in the last 2 years. He is in the top 5 players in the world right now. And in johnathon trott england have found their middle order player they need. Young , Confident and no scars from previous tours.

    As an aussie i'm dissapointed but as expected. I never thought we would win as our bowling is about 5th in the world at the moment. Our batting is fading because of the selectors lack of forsight.

    England were well and truely the better team.

  • andyp_75 on August 24, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    Well, as a passionate Australian supported I will never understand quite how we lost this Ashes series. But, we did and well played to the English. All I ask of the victors is one thing. Please can you make the next Ashes series in Australia as memorable and exciting as 05 and 09? As a passionate cricket fan it is really disappointing going and watching one side get embarrassingly flogged when you know what a epic battle the last series was. Come on England, prove yourselves a truly great side and play well over here in 2010/11....... Please.

  • RaghuramanR on August 24, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    Reg Flower's contribution, it is unfair to judge with one series win or defeat. His contribution to English cricket or the team can be judged after a year or two and especially after performance of England away - especially South African tour that Strauss also mentioned about.

  • Chennai_Voice on August 24, 2009, 3:58 GMT

    England is now counting on the South African talents to win Ashes. 1995 its Kev Peterson who made it happen and this time its again pool of South African talents made it happen (Strauss and Trott) Of course with the exception of Freddie who is English all round talent after Ian Botham era.

  • AJ_Tiger86 on August 24, 2009, 3:32 GMT

    What a proud this moment this is for English cricket fans. As much as I love Freddie Flintoff, I must say giving Flintoff the captaincy instead of Strauss in 2006 pushed English cricket back by three years. Strauss is such a down-to-earth man that he will be able to handle the post-Ashes euphoria by realizing that this team is still a long way from achieving greatness. But for all the fans- it's a time to celebrate.

  • TheDoctor394 on August 24, 2009, 3:11 GMT

    Boy... a worthy article of praise for Andrew Strauss, and two of the first three posts in reply are full of grumbling and mumbling about Flintoff. Whatever views about the allrounder and the focus on him might be, can't we forget about that for a moment and use this page as a worthy tribute to the wonderful work Strauss has done? Congratulations, Andrew. :-) I am delighted for you, and for England.

  • Alexk400 on August 24, 2009, 2:25 GMT

    This ashes series for between bottom feeders. England and aussies are 5 th and 6th. So england may have won ahses. They are not better than weak aussies team. When glory days , aussies had bowlers who take out opposition easily. This team bowling is really really weak. Mitchell johnson is glorified RP singh. P.siddle is hardest working bowler but his body will give out as he is like harmision in a sense..run and bang the ball in the pitch. He is effective only in boundcing pitches. This aussie team lack frontline bowlers. Brett lee is done and dusted. They need new crop of bowlers. I really think doug bollinger is good , he need more experience. He has more upside than siddle and hilfenhaus.

  • RaghuramanR on August 24, 2009, 2:09 GMT

    // Transmitting an air of calm has been Strauss's single biggest achievement as England captain.

    Indeed, for me that is the main, if not only, reason why I thought England will win the Ashes. Ponting and some of previous English captains look easily 'excitable' and Ponting talked of pressure on 'Trott' etc when it proved to spur on Trott for a century on debut. Strauss has the unflappable temperament which allows Key, Swann (for example) to perform at their best. I was more amused by the English pessimism - taking to heights when they could write of an Australian victory chasing 500 odd runs :o

  • Bayman on August 24, 2009, 0:40 GMT

    MartinAmber, Strauss may have been the umpires bunny but he got some back this series. Twice, plumb as but not given, one of them on the first ball of a Test but clearly before Bowden had woken up to the fact that the game had started. Having said that, Strauss was clearly England's player of the series and, I fully agree, his 100 at Lords set up England's win and should have been recognised. Freddie, frankly, has done sfa and, as usual, it's more hype than results with him. His 5 for at Lords was his only real contribution and that was recognised only because it came after England had been given a fright on day 4 by Clarke and Haddin. I suspect Flintoff's entire reputation is built around what he did for a few months in 2005 and it got him the captaincy, an embarrassing mistake. Enjoy the victory, Strauss, it had more to do with you than anything Flintoff contributed. Btw, compare the young Flintoff's figures to Broad at the same stage of their career - no comparison.

  • allblue on August 24, 2009, 0:17 GMT

    Excellent article, and well deserved praise for Strauss. There are two aspects to captaincy - on the field and off it. The article articulates how well he has lead from the front with the bat, and I suspect his sometimes conservative field placings are a reflection of the fragility of the confidence of his bowlers. Still, he placed himself directly under Haddin's heave today though didn't he!

    But it is also off the pitch where a captain earns his dues. Along with Flower, he has dragged a fractured fractious team together, and got them playing for each other and believing. His appointment was 2 1/2 years late, but we've finally got the right man for the job.

  • MartinAmber on August 23, 2009, 22:40 GMT

    "Flintoff will doubtless hog the limelight in the coming days". Yes, I bet he will. But doesn't that depress you a bit? It irritates me. Strauss should have been Man of the Match at Lord's, and he's so far ahead of the other "candidates" for England's Man of the Series it's actually quite embarrassing. We could also note that his runs inspired England's greatest series win under Vaughan (in South Africa, 2004/05) and that he was the only man on either side to make two hundreds in the 2005 Ashes. Plus, he was shabbily treated by the England management in 2006, when overlooked for the captaincy in favour of you-know-who, and to add insult to injury the umpires decided to make him their bunny. All hail Andrew Strauss, the one man who truly deserves all the praise coming to him in the next few days. (Still learning as a captain, though!)

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  • MartinAmber on August 23, 2009, 22:40 GMT

    "Flintoff will doubtless hog the limelight in the coming days". Yes, I bet he will. But doesn't that depress you a bit? It irritates me. Strauss should have been Man of the Match at Lord's, and he's so far ahead of the other "candidates" for England's Man of the Series it's actually quite embarrassing. We could also note that his runs inspired England's greatest series win under Vaughan (in South Africa, 2004/05) and that he was the only man on either side to make two hundreds in the 2005 Ashes. Plus, he was shabbily treated by the England management in 2006, when overlooked for the captaincy in favour of you-know-who, and to add insult to injury the umpires decided to make him their bunny. All hail Andrew Strauss, the one man who truly deserves all the praise coming to him in the next few days. (Still learning as a captain, though!)

  • allblue on August 24, 2009, 0:17 GMT

    Excellent article, and well deserved praise for Strauss. There are two aspects to captaincy - on the field and off it. The article articulates how well he has lead from the front with the bat, and I suspect his sometimes conservative field placings are a reflection of the fragility of the confidence of his bowlers. Still, he placed himself directly under Haddin's heave today though didn't he!

    But it is also off the pitch where a captain earns his dues. Along with Flower, he has dragged a fractured fractious team together, and got them playing for each other and believing. His appointment was 2 1/2 years late, but we've finally got the right man for the job.

  • Bayman on August 24, 2009, 0:40 GMT

    MartinAmber, Strauss may have been the umpires bunny but he got some back this series. Twice, plumb as but not given, one of them on the first ball of a Test but clearly before Bowden had woken up to the fact that the game had started. Having said that, Strauss was clearly England's player of the series and, I fully agree, his 100 at Lords set up England's win and should have been recognised. Freddie, frankly, has done sfa and, as usual, it's more hype than results with him. His 5 for at Lords was his only real contribution and that was recognised only because it came after England had been given a fright on day 4 by Clarke and Haddin. I suspect Flintoff's entire reputation is built around what he did for a few months in 2005 and it got him the captaincy, an embarrassing mistake. Enjoy the victory, Strauss, it had more to do with you than anything Flintoff contributed. Btw, compare the young Flintoff's figures to Broad at the same stage of their career - no comparison.

  • RaghuramanR on August 24, 2009, 2:09 GMT

    // Transmitting an air of calm has been Strauss's single biggest achievement as England captain.

    Indeed, for me that is the main, if not only, reason why I thought England will win the Ashes. Ponting and some of previous English captains look easily 'excitable' and Ponting talked of pressure on 'Trott' etc when it proved to spur on Trott for a century on debut. Strauss has the unflappable temperament which allows Key, Swann (for example) to perform at their best. I was more amused by the English pessimism - taking to heights when they could write of an Australian victory chasing 500 odd runs :o

  • Alexk400 on August 24, 2009, 2:25 GMT

    This ashes series for between bottom feeders. England and aussies are 5 th and 6th. So england may have won ahses. They are not better than weak aussies team. When glory days , aussies had bowlers who take out opposition easily. This team bowling is really really weak. Mitchell johnson is glorified RP singh. P.siddle is hardest working bowler but his body will give out as he is like harmision in a sense..run and bang the ball in the pitch. He is effective only in boundcing pitches. This aussie team lack frontline bowlers. Brett lee is done and dusted. They need new crop of bowlers. I really think doug bollinger is good , he need more experience. He has more upside than siddle and hilfenhaus.

  • TheDoctor394 on August 24, 2009, 3:11 GMT

    Boy... a worthy article of praise for Andrew Strauss, and two of the first three posts in reply are full of grumbling and mumbling about Flintoff. Whatever views about the allrounder and the focus on him might be, can't we forget about that for a moment and use this page as a worthy tribute to the wonderful work Strauss has done? Congratulations, Andrew. :-) I am delighted for you, and for England.

  • AJ_Tiger86 on August 24, 2009, 3:32 GMT

    What a proud this moment this is for English cricket fans. As much as I love Freddie Flintoff, I must say giving Flintoff the captaincy instead of Strauss in 2006 pushed English cricket back by three years. Strauss is such a down-to-earth man that he will be able to handle the post-Ashes euphoria by realizing that this team is still a long way from achieving greatness. But for all the fans- it's a time to celebrate.

  • Chennai_Voice on August 24, 2009, 3:58 GMT

    England is now counting on the South African talents to win Ashes. 1995 its Kev Peterson who made it happen and this time its again pool of South African talents made it happen (Strauss and Trott) Of course with the exception of Freddie who is English all round talent after Ian Botham era.

  • RaghuramanR on August 24, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    Reg Flower's contribution, it is unfair to judge with one series win or defeat. His contribution to English cricket or the team can be judged after a year or two and especially after performance of England away - especially South African tour that Strauss also mentioned about.

  • andyp_75 on August 24, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    Well, as a passionate Australian supported I will never understand quite how we lost this Ashes series. But, we did and well played to the English. All I ask of the victors is one thing. Please can you make the next Ashes series in Australia as memorable and exciting as 05 and 09? As a passionate cricket fan it is really disappointing going and watching one side get embarrassingly flogged when you know what a epic battle the last series was. Come on England, prove yourselves a truly great side and play well over here in 2010/11....... Please.