Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel 9's cricket coverage

Andrew Strauss retires

One of England's best

There were no tears and no regrets. Just like during his career Andrew Strauss dealt in facts and reality when deciding to call it a day

Mark Nicholas

August 29, 2012

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Andrew Strauss reflects on his side's 51-run defeat, England v South Africa, 3rd Investec Test, Lord's, 5th day, August 20, 2012
Andrew Strauss sensed the end was coming and did not try to pretend otherwise © Getty Images
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With memorable understatement and a conspicuous lack of fuss, Andrew Strauss resigned the England captaincy and retired from professional cricket. A lifetime of ambition and achievement, a good living well made - gone, finito. "You just know" he said, and you do. It washes over you. The sheer pleasure of release, an orgasm of self-appraisal and realisation. Then suddenly, the bearable lightness of being.

Typical Strauss. No glorification. No quivering lip, not even the blink of an eye. Just the facts. There was no emotion. "I know where I'm at" he said. Best to go when they ask why, not when. Apparently the energy levels to get his batting sorted are somewhere in the ether, somewhere lost in time. He is 35 years old. It is easy to forget that he started quite late.

Remember the Lord's hundred on debut and the second-innings 83 before Nasser Hussain ran him out? Only 2004. Remember the white gauze and plaster on his ear lobe while celebrating another hundred against Australia at Old Trafford in 2005? Remember the thrilling, horizontal left-handed catch at Trent Bridge the same summer? The counter-attack in Brisbane? The Ashes secured in Melbourne? The lifting of the urn in Sydney? The World Cup hundred for a tie in Bangalore? All Strauss. All memories now.

Alastair Cook sat alongside him in the boardroom at the offices of the ECB. Unusual that, the handing of the baton so immediate and public. Let Strauss have his moment you thought before realising he was not looking for "a moment". He was here because it was the next thing on the road. Like Cook if you think about, the next thing on a road much travelled by cricket's caravan.

These South Africans are consistent. Hussain, Michael Vaughan and now "Straussy", as "Cookie" kept calling him. All three, victims of the South Africans and a four-year cycle that ends with The Death of a Captain. Graeme Smith has seen them all off. No wonder they call him Biff.

So why did this intelligent and loyal man chose to move on? Not, he insists, because of Kevin. There may be plenty about Kev that occupies the Strauss mind but not enough to obscure his judgement. Quite likely, the Pietersen issue made him consider staying in the job a little longer - after all, it is unfinished business and there is nothing else about Strauss that is unfinished. He is a man of symmetry: begin and end at Lord's; play a hundred Tests, captain 50 of them. Twenty-one hundreds, just like Pietersen; 27 fifties, just like Pietersen.

Even the recession of his hair is divided equally from the forehead's remaining centre of growth. Oh no, KP was good reason to crack on - another challenge, as sports folk like to say. But he didn't fall for it. ("You just know.") So Kevin is Alastair's problem now. Big problem. "Look, there is a process to go through" said Alastair, when asked if he wanted Pietersen in his team. By which he meant, we need a punch up and from it there is the chance of a kiss and make-up. He better hope it comes off. The cupboard inherited is not so flush with batsmen. Stop for a minute and think about replacements for Strauss at the top of the order. There you go, it's not obvious.

Strauss retired because he had enough. Lucky him, no regrets. His batting has slipped from a former height; his captaincy has lost something of the midas touch; his team have lost six in 11 Tests; three key bowlers have lost a bit of zip; catches are being dropped; the kids at home are growing up fast; and so on.

Vaughan had a bad knee injury to decipher. Hussain had a lot of defeats to ponder. Strauss, an exceptional cricketer marginally on the wrong side of the hill, just wanted out. Unconditional, uncomplicated out. He had been thinking about it all summer. He didn't like speculation about his form and therefore his place in the team - remember the witch-hunt last spring, yes, only last spring.

"I went down where the vultures feed / I would've got deeper but there wasn't any need / I heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men / And it wasn't any difference to me"

Bob Dylan from his song "Dignity". That's Strauss for you, his own man: a man of dignity. Honest, loyal and as good a captain of England as he could have been, one of the best. His team that became No. 1 in the world was also one of England's best. He made more than 7000 runs and held more catches in an England shirt than any man. When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said he hated the question, but added, "Remember me for who I am."

He also said that he had gone at a good time, that he was proud of the performance at Lord's when the team fought as one and, in the face of a major disruption, made South Africa go the distance. Typical of Strauss to see the upside. "What next?" said the long established cricket correspondent of the Sun newspaper. "Hmmm. I think I'll have crack at being cricket correspondent of the Sun." And that was pretty much that, upon which the press applauded him - a most surprising occurrence on a most surprising day. Good night captain, and good luck.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

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Posted by mikey76 on (September 1, 2012, 18:00 GMT)

No Randy England never had any legends....none at all. In the History of cricket...150 years plus we have never produced a single player of note. Do you sense the sarcasm??? But then Nathan Lyon and David Warner are both "legends" so there you go.

Posted by   on (September 1, 2012, 17:21 GMT)

Sad to see an excellent gutsy leader for England leave as quietly as he did. He deserves all the credit for England's successes leading from the front on a number of occasions and focused on the task rather than the characters around it. All the best to Strauss for his future...good luck to England in trying to find a suitable replacement!!

Posted by Capt.Harry on (September 1, 2012, 14:26 GMT)

Great article Mark..very sad to see you go Strauss. You were a fine player/ captain. Players like you are hard to come by nowadays and the game itself is changing too rapidly.No longer are players appreciating the honor of representing their country.The truth is KP has messed up full time.End of story! Team work/spirit is dying. It is all about the self economics no matter how hard they try to disguise it.I still feel you could have gone on for one year longer though. Why? I have noticed ( as a first class cricketer myself)that good batsmen go through a purple patch between the ages of 32-36 years.Check out the records for this..Some names are Chanderpaul, Ponting,Kallis, Younis Khan..etc.I have your autograph from Guaracara Park Trinidad, the last time England toured the West Indies(2008/9). Good luck in your retirement.You deserve a long holiday. Come and visit the beautiful Caribbean..big fan.. but West Indian supporter.

Posted by Plz_Dont_Get_Whitewashed on (August 31, 2012, 18:52 GMT)

I will always remember Strauss for that 150+ score he made against India in the World Cup 2011 ! .... I was sweating bullets and chomping my nails in sheer tension till Andrew was on the crease whacking our bowlers all over the park!!! ;) Will always remember that Andy. (From an appreciative Indian Fan)

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 12:23 GMT)

He's been a great captain for ENG

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 9:22 GMT)

Graeme smith is a jinx lol....he might around 36 in 2017, and if he captains SA for that english tour we can be assured that he will be aiming for 4-0 hahahaha..

Posted by javed.agrawala on (August 31, 2012, 6:19 GMT)

Great article Mark Nicholas for a great cricketer. a model cricketer was Strauss in many ways!

Good luck, Andrew, your calmness and leadership qualities will be missed. BTW I loved your comments on why no one would read your tweets! Typical understatement that came from you!

Posted by   on (August 31, 2012, 2:52 GMT)

What a innings he played against India during last world cup... !!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by tonobwoy on (August 31, 2012, 2:25 GMT)

Getting to the top is always easier than remaining at the top. Mr. Andrew Strauss has done a magnificent job of leading England to the pinnacle of Test cricket. I rate as the best English captain in the last fifty years. He played positive, attacking cricket which was very ''ub-english''. England will have to replace a giant ....and Ihave not seen anyone to do so in the immediate future.All the best to you, Andrew Strauss.

Posted by Meety on (August 31, 2012, 2:03 GMT)

@katandthat3 - I think it was Vaughn who pioneered the defensive tactic of boundary riders in Tests. However, he did that to counter a far superior foe, (Oz in 2005), which whilst negative was tactically astute.

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Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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