Andrew Strauss, the captain of the English Test squad has been hailed as one of the best openers to have played for England. He has the distinction of leading the English team to win two consecutive Ashes series, both at home and away. Let us know more about this talented cricketer in this article…
Andrew John Strauss is the captain of the English Test cricket team and he also plays county cricket for Middlesex. Born in South Africa in 1977, Andrew Strauss is regarded as one of the best left-handed batsman to have played for England. He has been conferred with Member of the British Empire (MBE) and the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the Queen for his exceptional services to cricket.
Early Cricketing Career
Andrew Strauss started playing cricket in Australia when he was attending the Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne. He was educated at the Caldicott School, Radley College, and Hatfield College, finally completing his education with a degree in Economics from the prestigious Durham University. He is married to Ruth MacDonald, who is an Australian actress. They have two children, Sam aged six, and Luca, aged three.
Andrew Strauss was a regular feature in the Durham University cricket team and has also played for the Middlesex second XI since 1996. Strauss made his way into the Middlesex first XI in the year 1998, making a patient 83, but his performance was ordinary in the rest of the series. It took Strauss two years to make his maiden first-class hundred. He performed consistently with the bat, helping himself to become the captain of Middlesex in 2002.
Andrew Strauss was selected for England’s tour of the sub-continent, starting with England taking on Bangladesh in a One Day International (ODI) series. He played a tour match, scoring 51, but did not get an opportunity to be a part of playing eleven against Bangladesh. After the Bangladesh tour, England flew to Sri Lanka, where he finally got a chance to represent England.
He did not make the most of it and was subsequently dropped for the rest of the tour. Strauss got another opportunity, this time in West Indies where he made a sturdy 29, helping England to win the match. He was omitted from the squad again, until the final match where he scored a fluent 66, resulting into England drawing the series.
After the England team returned home to host New Zealand, an injury to Michael Vaughan allowed him to feature in the playing eleven. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring 112 in the first innings and 82 in the second (he was run out in second innings and Naseer Hussain, who was the other batsman, took the responsibility for it). His impressive performance launched him as a formidable left-hander for England, also making him the second English player to score a century on debut at Lord’s.
He also became the fourth Englishman in the history of cricket to score a century and a half-century on debut. He was awarded the Man of the Match for his efforts and established himself as a strong contender for the opener’s slot in the Test team. When Naseer Hussain decided to quit international cricket, Strauss was given the responsibility to open the England innings, along with fellow southpaw Marcus Trescothick. In the ensuing Natwest series, Strauss scored his first ODI hundred, which also saw him build a 226 run partnership with Andrew Flintoff.
The next major landmark in Andrew Strauss’s career came in 2005, the year that changed everything for English cricket. England won the Ashes 2005, with a 2-1 win over arch-rivals Australia, lifting the symbolic urn after 18 years. Andrew Strauss could not do much in the first two Tests, his highest score being 48 in the first innings of the second Test match. However, Strauss came back strongly in the second innings of the third Test match, scoring 106, helping his side to post a challenging 371 on board.
The fourth Test match, which is regarded as many to be one of the best Ashes matches ever, saw Strauss make notable contributions with the bat in a low-scoring match. In the final and the deciding Test, Strauss held the fort, while wickets kept on falling at the other end, scoring a defiant 129, an innings which helped England create history, prompting frenzy celebrations across the country.
After his Ashes histrionics, the England team toured Pakistan, where Strauss did not have a very impressive run with the bat in the Test matches. He had to return home to be there with his wife as she delivered their first child. Strauss returned to Pakistan, and except a match-winning 94, did not perform well in the ODI’s. England toured India next, where Strauss, again did not contribute much with the bat, apart from a test hundred. It was in the ODI series against India that Strauss got the opportunity to lead the English side as Andrew Flintoff needed a break.
Strauss was made the official captain for the Pakistan’s tour of England and although Strauss performed well, guiding England to win the Test match series, the summer was remembered more for the Ovalgate fiasco, when umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove felt that the ball had been tampered by the Pakistani fieldsmen.
Pakistan team objected strongly to this allegation and decided not to take the field as a mark of protest. In the subsequent one day series, Strauss played a crucial innings of 35 in the fourth Test match allowed England to level the series. Although Strauss scored two half-centuries in three matches in Champion’s trophy in India, the team as a whole could not do much, with just one win over the West Indies.
Strauss had to make way for Andrew Flintoff as the captain of the England team as he was declared fully fit. The period from 2006-07 saw a dip in his form and he was eventually dropped from the ODI side. Strauss took a short break from cricket and when he was recalled for the 2008 tour of New Zealand, he did not disappoint the selectors and made a career best 177 at Napier. He continued his good form against South Africa and India, making two hundreds in the same Test match against the latter.
Strauss was once again entrusted with the job of captaincy in January 2009 and amassed 541 runs against West Indies with an impressive average of 67.62. England lost the away series but atoned the defeat when they hosted West Indies. Andrew Strauss played a vital role in the 2009 Ashes series, defeating Australia 2-1 and once again bringing home the coveted urn. Andrew Strauss was named the Man of the Series for his contribution with the bat.
Perhaps the greatest achievement for Andrew Strauss’s captaincy was winning the 2010-11 Ashes series in Australia, making him the third English captain after Mike Brearley and Len Hutton to win an Ashes series at home and away. England won the series 3-1, which also made Ricky Ponting, the captain of the Australian team to become the first Australian captain to surrender the Ashes thrice.
The 2011 Cricket World Cup, was rather erratic for England. They won against South Africa, but lost to minnows Ireland and Bangladesh. England crashed out of the quarter-final stage of the World Cup, however, not many questions were asked on Strauss’s captaincy as it was generally agreed that English players had played too much cricket before the World Cup, leading to fatigue and injuries to their star players.
As Simon Hughes, a cricket journalist who spent some time with Andrew Strauss for a book, points out, Andrew Strauss may not have the aura or the invincibility that one generally associates with a captain, his ability to remain calm in crucial situations, backed by the immense belief that he has in himself has made him one of the highly rated cricketers in the world.