Monday, 4 October 2010

Ashes player preview - Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss is hoping to do what no England captain has done for over 20 years - retain the Ashes down under.

The 33-year-old is not only burdened with that particular statistic, but also the lingering memory of 2007 when England suffered a humiliating 5-0 whitewash at the hands of the Aussies, meaning they lost their short grip on the urn won in such style in 2005. The best Ashes odds suggest England will be in for a tough time again.

Strauss was merely a squad member back then, albeit one that opened the innings with Alastair Cook. He endured a miserable series however, making only one notable score - 50 at Melbourne in the Boxing Day Test, though he will be remembered more for becoming Shane Warne's 700th test victim in that game.

Strauss was eventually dropped from the test squad the following year after an extended dip in form but he returned refreshed and revived for the 2007 visit of New Zealand and South Africa.

A rift between then captain Kevin Pietersen and coach Peter Moores saw Strauss take the captaincy in early 2009. With the Ashes on the horizon Strauss and new coach Andy Flower had a job on their hands to unite the squad in time for the series - a poor early performance in the West Indies didn't help.

Thankfully for England the team and Strauss were much improved by the time Ricky Ponting and co arrived in England in May. Two tense draws sandwiched a historic win at Lord's, where Strauss claimed the highest individual score of the series - 161.

With the series tied at 1-1 going into the final game at the Oval a convincing 197 run victory meant the Ashes returned into England's grasp and Strauss was named man of the series by Australia coach Tim Neilsen. Anyone who wants to bet on top English batsman this time around should bear him in mind.

Australia may not be the all conquering team they once were, but on the hard pitches of their home grounds they are a formidable team, and wounded by the events of 2009, they will be as determined as ever to reclaim the urn. For Strauss, the hard work starts here.

1 comment:

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