Saturday, 4 November 2006

Not the captain, but still vital

Andrew Strauss was narrowly overlooked for the captaincy on the Ashes tour. But he is nonetheless an invaluable member of the side; indeed, he was the only player on either side to score two hundreds in the epic series of 2005.

In just 31 Tests, Strauss already has 10 Test Match hundreds; this is testament to his remarkable conversion rate (he has three more hundreds than fifties at this level), as well as his unerring consistency.

The player who gave Strauss the most trouble 14 months ago was Shane Warne. The phenomenal leg-spinner dismissed him six times; Strauss, who improved as the series went on, scored 120 runs. Having since played in both India and Pakistan, one would expect England’s vice-captain to improve somewhat against Warne.

Two hundreds in England’s Test series win over Pakistan proved that Strauss is currently near to his Man of the Series form against South Africa two winters ago. He will play in his trademark minimalist way and, aided by a fantastically calm temperament, should enjoy some success. England certainly need him to: with Marcus Trescothick’s many worries, he is the closest they have to a ‘banker.’

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