Andrew Strauss has been spending some time with the media recently. It’s always interesting to hear him speak. Although I don’t always agree with everything he says – I sometimes feel that he over-complicates things and makes simple ideas sound more complex than they really are – I find it reassuring that he obviously cares a great deal about the England side, and that he takes his role extremely seriously.
After the days of Ted ‘let’s call up Martin McCaddick’ Dexter, when English cricket seemed to be run by amateurs, it’s good to know that Strauss is thinking hard about England’s future and is prepared to do his due diligence. He’s obviously a very thoughtful and intelligent man, and I’d much rather see a somewhat cerebral man in charge than somebody purely instinctive and gung-ho.
You’ll see I’ve embedded one of the more interesting parts of his recent interview below. It reveals Strauss thoughts on team culture. I think many of you will find it enlightening, not to mention eyebrow raising.
When it comes to team culture, Strauss believes that England and Australia have similar values and share a common outlook. I’m not too sure about this. The Aussies aren’t exactly known for playing the kind of attritional and patient cricket that won England the Ashes under Strauss and Flower. I’ve always regarded Australian cricketers as more aggressive and naturally positive than their English counterparts.
The second interesting titbit concerns the role of individuals within this team culture. Strauss doesn’t believe there’s any such thing as a surefire blueprint for creating a good culture and environment. Instead he talks about the little things including, incidentally, the need to foster a sense of inclusivity amongst the players – so they all feel as though they belong.
As well as understanding that players are people rather than ‘commodities’, I’m guessing inclusivity also entails senior players spending time with the younger guys, and everyone communicating openly and honestly so that different views are heard. I’m not sure how coaches and captains can create a sense of inclusivity without this? Of course, one shouldn’t forget that views must be expressed at the right time, in the right manner.
Strauss’s words certainly offer food for thought. I wonder if his personal view of ‘team culture’, and how one might create a good and successful one, differed from Paul Downton’s model?