Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @miller_cricket
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Sir Andrew Strauss, the former England captain, is confident that the cricket-loving public will get behind next week's #RedForRuth day at Emirates Old Trafford and help raise awareness and funds for the Ruth Strauss Foundation, even though the Covid-19 pandemic means that no spectators will be present to emulate last year's inaugural event.
The initiative was launched at Lord's in August 2019, during the second Test against Australia, and raised over £550,000 for the foundation, which is named in memory of Strauss's wife, Ruth, who died in 2018 aged 46 from a rare form of lung cancer that affects non-smokers.
She left behind two sons, Sam and Luca, who were 13 and 10 at the time, and Strauss said that the primary goal of the foundation, in addition to helping to find a cure for the disease, was to help provide support for families who are facing the death of a parent.
"Last year was such an incredibly emotional experience for myself and the boys," Strauss said, "to feel that wave of empathy and support from all the cricket-loving public, for our story, and for Ruth, and for what we're trying to do with the foundation.
"A year on, we're very proud of some of the work that's gone into the foundation so far. It goes without saying, it's going to be different this year. The world is in a different place. And obviously, it's not going to feel quite the same as it did last year, but hopefully it will be just as impactful."
As was the case in 2019, the stumps and boundary boards for the third Test will turn red on July 25, the second day of the match. The players will wear red caps, with red tinges on their shirts, and in the absence of a crowd, the big screens in the ground will be used to show pictures of fans and clubs also dressed in red. An online auction will also be held, featuring several prizes donated by the England team.
"We're going to try and be as creative as we can be," Strauss said. "We're relatively limited in what we can do, given everything that's going on with the bio-secure bubble, but it's mainly about the platform to share what you're doing with the public, and that's not one that we take lightly.
"For us, that means the cricket-loving public, people who will hopefully have an interest in, or have an experience in, what we're doing. I personally felt last year that the combination of the Red for Ruth day and some really good, quality cricket at the same time was a really fantastic combination."
The charity sector has taken a significant hit in the course of the Covid outbreak - and Strauss admitted that his foundation had been no exception, with three or four events already cancelled or postponed, as well as major fundraising opportunities such as the London Marathon, which led to the viral initiative of 26 sponsored "bat taps" to replicate each mile of the course.
"Most of the events that you do require people to be together in a room," Strauss said. "That's not possible now and probably won't be for a while either. But a lot of charities are finding a reduction in donations and probably more need than ever for the services they offer.
"We're a small charity and just starting on our journey, just over 12 months after being formed, and so we don't have the big operational liabilities that other charities have which gives us a bit more flexibility.
"We estimate it's going to cost about £200 to put someone through the Ruth Strauss Foundation training programme so the more of those £200 we can raise, the more we can help people to give the support that other people will need."
For more information on the Ruth Strauss Foundation, and to donate, click here