Monday, 11 June 2007

What has happened to Andrew Strauss?

Andrew Strauss, not so long ago, was a model of reliability as an opening batsman. Though seldom spectacular, he made the most of his somewhat minimalistic game. His phlegmatic temperament and fondness of scoring square of the wicket evoked comparisons with his former Middlesex team-mate Justin Langer.

Now, however, he appears to have been found out. It is clear that, if he is denied width, the offside field is packed and bowlers continue to bowl outside off-stump, his run-scoring becomes stunted and, eventually, his frustration will get the better of him. Though this, generally speaking, is a formula that will oust most Test batsmen, Strauss is particularly susceptible because he scores very few runs down the ground, meaning it is too easy for good bowlers to choke his scoring shots.

Above all, Strauss appears mentally exhausted after a winter in which he was worked over relentlessly by Australia; as the senior batsman, much was expected of him. Yet he struggled and, especially worryingly, has continued to do so even against the moderate West Indies attack. He has now reached beyond the point of suffering a mere dip in form; the feeling is that his limited game – once his strength – has been found out.

In 15 Test innings, he has failed to pass 50; he has been equally poor in one-day internationals. Though it was Australia who exposed his flaws, Strauss’ woes have not dissipated against friendlier attacks; rather, they have been accentuated as, while he has continued to struggle, others have enjoyed relatively easy pickings. Strauss is very lucky to remain in the Test squad for Chester-le-Street; and, with a plethora of batsmen pushing their claims, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that, if he fails, his international career could be at an end.


Richard Lake said...

Despite having predicted it for a number of tests, I do think he's only one innings away from a big score and it'll all be settled again.

You've disected the problem very well, Tim, and the best thing that the selectors can now do is leave him out of the ODI team and give him a bit of time off.

His problem is not far off being the same as Tresco, it takes him time to get his feet moving. Either he needs to work on that, or learn to be patient until he does get going.

One of the ironies of this series is that the West Indies have bowled so well at him, and so poorly at everyone else.

Whinging Pom said...

Time for a change for me. Give Bopara a go and move Vaughan up to open and move Bell to 3 to stop lots of pressure being exerted onto Bopara.

I think Strauss' problem, as you say is mental and has carried on from the winter. I'd like to see him relax and score fairly easy runs in the county game and hopefully return the player he was.

Tim said...

Good point about the feet Richard.

Personally, I believe that, if he fails, he may find it very difficult to return to the side.

Richard Lake said...

The thing is that he has played one county match this season and scored a ton.

Ironically, his form looks worse because everyone else is scoring runs for fun. Compared to Chris Gayle, whi apparently hasn't hit a ton in 2 years, he's positively Bradmanesque!

Irim said...

Excellent dissection of the problem here - he really does need to broaden his repertoire a bit. He's always been one of my favourite players, and I can't help but wonder how the messing him about with the captaincy and the string of bad decisions in Aus (and some of them were horrifyingly bad) affected him.
And he's played for a year non-stop. He's got to be knackered, physically and mentally.
He's great in the field, he's a calm head, and he'd be an excellent captain should anything happen to Michael Vaughan.