|Home - Back Issues - The Team - Contact Us|
|Volume 11 |Issue 36| September 14, 2012 ||
The 11th of March, last year witnessed the Bangladeshi cricket team come back from the dead and edge past England in a thrilling finale. It was Shafiul Islam's blade that dispatched the English bowling attack to the different corners of the park and almost single-handedly took Bangladesh home. The Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, in Chittagong, erupted as Mahamudullah Riyadh punched an over-pitched delivery to the covers for the winning runs; the port-city didn't sleep that night.
It was a night for England to forget. Sports journalists and pundits expected the losing captain to blame the defeat on the evening dew; some even expected him to skip the post-match interview session. However, Andrew Strauss was going to have none of that.
It's a well known fact that captains, on the losing end, don't always hit the right notes at press conferences and Strauss, having lost a 'sitter' at the biggest stage, was bound to face a number of critical questions. In reply to a question regarding the team's performance, he said, "If defeats didn't hurt, then you wouldn't be playing this game."
While he couldn't make much of an impact that night, courtesy of the celebratory mode in the stadium, it was this one statement, which bestowed the kind of discipline that he had for the game and for a brief moment stole the focus away from the Bangladeshi celebrations.
It's not everyday that one comes across players like Strauss. A severe cutter of the ball, the left-handed opener was more than just another batsman in the squad. It was his ability to stay on the wicket and hold the innings together, that made him almost indispensable to his side.
While his batting average may not suggest the latter– 40.76 as captain and 41.04 not as a captain– the fact that it was under his captaincy that England were ranked as the number one cricket team, displays the kind of control that he had over the team. Again, it was a Strauss-led team that brought the Ashes home after a wait of almost two and a half decades.
The best captains in the world didn't always come into the picture straightaway and the case was similar with regard to the English batsman. Strauss was initially given the role in 2006 in a series against Pakistan, after Michael Vaughan, the then Captain of the English side missed the series due to injury. He led England to a fine victory and ever since then was on the English Cricket Board's cards to lead the side.
While many considered him to be a 'test-specialist', his ODI career too was nothing short of a success. Not many Bangladeshis can forget the way he demolished us with two of his career-best scores. What was perhaps most threatening was that he almost always laid down a foundation for the middle-order to bank upon. His highest ODI innings came in the recently concluded world cup when England, against India, was in pursuit of 339. He scored a fluent 158 and helped his side tie the game.
The firm hand with which he led the side was perhaps best described by England's coach, Andy Flower. Following Strauss's retirement, Flower remarked, "He was the kind of player who could see things from others' perspective and that helped gain some close friends in the team." The former Zimbabwe player also stated that while they didn't always agree on things, Strauss could conjure up a position in the middle which would work for both the parties. Considering the magnitude of his achievements, at 35, Strauss's decision to leave international cricket is perhaps justified. The only unfortunate aspect of his timing is that the English media was busy covering Kevin Pieterson's 'mood swings'. While the media's decision to focus more on Pieterson's controversy might have slightly taken away the 'shine' from his farewell, a mere glance at his contribution to English cricket will show how indispensable a player Andre Strauss was. England has seen many able captains in the past. Naser Hossain was known for his bold decisions on the field, Michael Vaughan for his unique on field moves, but very few displayed the mettle that Strauss played the gentleman's game with.
Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2012