…as it started.
With a Kevin Pietersen orchestrated mess. Though in classic Andrew Strauss style he played down the chance to stick the knife into someone who totally deserves it right between the shoulder blades.
It was from the debacle of Kevin Pietersen’s 3 test tenure as England captain, alongside Peter Moores as head coach that Strauss was finally given the job he should have got some time earlier.
It came as a shock to no one that Andrew Straus stood down as England cricket captain yesterday, after the hastily arranged press conference, the fact he was giving up the game completely did come as somewhat of a surprise. Had Pietersen’s antics caused Strauss to fall out of live with the game that much?
Well he claimed the decision had been in the making well before any texts were sent to the visiting South Africans. The last six to twelve months in fact. The period when both he and the team had been struggling after reaching the number one spot in the Test rankings after stuffing India last summer. His form had dropped over the last year, really struggled in this last series as the top spot was taken from them and that seemed one of the overriding reasons.
Funny that Sir Geoffrey was criticised a bit back for having a go at Strauss in his column a few days before this announcement – from a reader whose address was in Middlesex. Surprise, surprise – but Boycott wasn’t sticking the boot into Strauss. He was pointing out that it’s easier for a captain to get away with a loss of form when the team are winning but it’s much harder to get away with averages around the 20 mark in lost series. He also pointed out two, small, areas where Strauss could make the changes that would probably turn things around. Simple front and back foot movements. getting closer to the pitch of the ball with the front foot and covering up the stumps more with the back.
It’s a shame that he didn’t feel like fixing things and carrying on at least through the tour of India later in the year.
Maybe he had been thinking about giving up the captaincy for a while and the whole Pietersen thing just made his mind up to go the whole hog and pack it in completely. A seemingly honourable man, from the outside, you could tell over the last few weeks what went on in and around the dressing room with Pietersen had left him looking miserable. Of course the results didn’t help either.
Again it’s a shame Strauss has gone out like this, Losing the test series to South Africa, meaning also the loss of the number one ranking spot, a poor test with the bat and that awful way of getting out in his last ever at bat as a professional, in his 100th test.
So where does he stand in the great scheme of things. Well first off it’s strange to think he was only in the job for three and half years and as I said earlier it should have been longer than that as he should have got the job rather than Andrew Flintoff after his successful first stint in 2006 – 3-0 victory over Pakistan in 4 tests. And should have been the safe hands to take over after Flintoff’s failure rather than the left field choice of Pietersen. from the off he was far better suited to the role than either of them.
Only Michael Atherton and Vaughan has captained England in more games. He certainly ranks above Atherton. Alongside Vaughan it can be split between type of captain and success. Vaughan along with the likes of Mike Brearley are above him with regards on field tactics, Strauss was a pretty conservative captain, fields spread early if runs were coming but then maybe he didn’t have the players at his disposal.
But when it comes to success his win percentage was just below Vaughan’s and while Vaughan was in charge as England won the Ashes for the first time in nearly 20 years Strauss won the Ashes home and away which only two other captains have managed. Brearley and Sir Len Hutton. You can almost discount Brearley’s as most of the best Australians of that era had joined the Packer exodus and weren’t in the official test team.
So while not maybe being the first choice as England’s best ever captain he had a record that put him up there with 50 matches in charge winning almost half of them, leading England on a great run of series wins including those two Ashes series which stand out above everything. While being a man most respected inside and outside the dressing room.
So Cook is the new man, no surprises the ECB went in that direction. Not exactly having the best time himself with the bat, slightly overlooked because the eyes being on Strauss but will now be under the microscope because he holds the top job – have a word with Sir Geoffrey, he knows where you’re going wrong Cooky. All honesty was there really any other contenders? No, not really. But hard to tell if he’ll be a success.
A finally a number think with Strauss’ departure it makes it easier to reintegrate Pietersen into the side. It shouldn’t. No matter what Strauss said to the contrary Pietersen’s behaviour has lead to the breakdown of this team and the captain to stand down. It should signal the end of Pietersen’s involvement with England totally. He can bugger off to the IPL or any other meaningless Twenty20 slog about going on round the world until each of the teams he’s involved with get sick of him and his baggage and bin him off like so many have done previously without a regret.
I suppose it’s yet again a shame that this post along with so many other articles about Strauss, thanking him for his great service, should even mention Pietersen.