We had an inkling this might happen. Andrew Strauss, England’s second most successful test captain after Michael Vaughan, retired from all cricket today. The players were told yesterday apparently, which probably explains yesterday’s rather flat performance at the Rose Bowl. Thank heavens we can talk about this, rather than Hamish Amla’s latest ton.
So what are your thoughts? Personally, I think it was a brave decision by Strauss and the correct one. His form had been on a downward curve for some time and his modes of dismissal rather worrying. He admitted in today’s press conference – which he handled with his customary dignity and intelligence – that his form with the bat was the main reason for his decision; he believed he had ‘run his race’ and his form was unlikely to improve.
Similarly, let’s not forget that Strauss’ team has also performed badly in recent times (six defeats in eleven matches) so it was time for a change. New ideas are needed, and with them a more attacking philosophy – although with Andy Flower still ensconced it is debatable how much difference Strauss’s retirement will make.
Although the skipper’s exit leaves us somewhat weaker in the short term (who will open the batting with Cook?) it is time to move on. The number one ranking has gone so it’s time to build again.
I would give Joe Root a run in Strauss’ absence. He has a good temperament and an immaculate technique. I wouldn’t expect miracles from him this winter, but I believe the experience will help him in next summer’s Ashes series – which should be our priority now. The India tour is a big one, but we cannot expect a rebuilding side to overcome decades of English failure on the subcontinent. Beating the Aussies on home soil is a more reasonable objective at this point.
So there we have it. An exciting new ear for English cricket. I’m rather looking forward to it. And please, nobody mention Kevin Pietersen at this point. The KP debacle had absolutely nothing to do with Strauss’s decision, nor should we let the controversy detract from his achievements as captain. This is Strauss’ day.
Good night and good luck, skip. We’ll miss you.