*My favourite player series is where we ask you to tell us who your favourite player is, why they're your favourite player and your best memory. This is a brand new series that is open to anyone and everyone, so if you're interested, get in touch on Twitter. Without further ado here is James with his favourite player. Make sure you follow him on Twitter @cricketjim1
The past 15 years have played host to some of the most spectacular times in English Cricket.
From the 2005 Ashes, to the rise to world number one at the turn of the decade, and more
recently, the most exciting day anybody could imagine at Lords, culminating in Eoin Morgan
lifting the World Cup. However, one player that often doesn’t get the credit he deserves,
both on and off the field for these tremendous years, is Andrew Strauss.
Strauss took over the captaincy after England had spent some years in the wilderness after
the success of 05, with his leadership tenure coming on the back of the Pietersen and
Moores controversy of 2008. Yet despite the controversy, and the fact Strauss had only
been recalled to the England side a year prior, the South African native cultivated what is
now seen as undoubtedly the greatest England Test side of the modern Era. For an often-
understated man, who was frequently wrestling with his own personal game, to develop
into such an astute leader of men, is nothing short of outstanding. Indeed, Strauss played
exactly half of his 100 Test caps as captain, his average standing at 40.76 whilst doing so.
Compare this to a career average of 40.91 and we see a player whom was able to maintain
his quality with the bat, whilst developing and maintaining one of the great teams of English
The standout memory of Strauss’ tenure to any cricket fan is surely the thrashing of
Australia in their own back yard for the first time since 1989. Strauss’ own series with the
bat was good without being phenomenal, scoring 307 runs at 43. However, what he did was
worth more than just his runs, it was me and my dad staying up until the early hours during
the Christmas break, watching Strauss, Cook and Trott pile misery onto the Aussies, the
same misery they had inflicted on us for so long. A vague memory I have is of the final Test,
where the Australian newspapers were shown to be calling the Australian XI playing that
day the worst to be ever fielded. Memories like that were only made due to the desire
Strauss had to ensure that the England side became the best in the world, and in doing so
they humiliated the Aussies.
Sadly, Strauss was unable to see the team he had cultivated win in India, a feat just as good,
if not better, than winning down under. The opener suffered a loss of form and a home
series defeat to South Africa, causing England to lose their number one ranking, was the end
for my hero. Yet, many of the players whom had stepped up with Strauss were still present
in India, including his successor; Alastair Cook. He may not have been there, but it was his
team and his presence that saw England conquer.
The playing days, however, are not the only defining factor of what makes Strauss so special
to English cricket. It was Strauss, as the recently appointed director of English Cricket, whom
sacked Peter Moores and hired Trevor Bayliss, emphasising England’s need to revolutionise
their limited overs game. Often the pair of Bayliss and Morgan are seen as the leaders of the
white ball revolution for England, but without the clear and un-wavering backing of Strauss,
the World Cup may never have been achieved.
Sadly, Strauss was forced to step down in 2018 to care for and spend time with his wife,
who was, unfortunately, suffering from a rare form of cancer, and just a couple of months
later she would sadly pass away. Yet Strauss, as he often had done in his international
career was able to re-group and return to English cricket in the form of the Ruth Strauss
foundation, where on the second day of the Lord’s Test against Australia in 2019, red filled
the stands of the home of cricket to raise awareness for his late wife and her foundation.
English Cricket has truly been blessed with some amazing times over the past 16 years since
Strauss made his debut, it has also had to suffer some turbulent and trying times. However,
through it all, Strauss has been a stalwart to the game and the country. English cricket owes
a lot to Strauss, hopefully, we can repay him in the future.