England Test captain Andrew Strauss announced his retirement from all forms of the game today with Alistair Cook confirmed as his successor.
The 35 year old insisted that the decision to step down was made for cricketing reasons and that the recent episode involving Kevin Pietersen had nothing whatsoever to do with his decision.
After making his Test debut in 2004, making a century against New Zealand in his first match, Strauss took over as captain in 2009, replacing Kevin Pietersen at a time when the national side was in a bit of turmoil. He went on to skipper the side through one of its most successful periods in history. He famously led England to 2 successes in Ashes series, including the Three Lions’ first triumph on Australian soil in 24 years and also oversaw the side’s ascent to number-one in the Test rankings in 2011, from which they were displaced in the 2-0 series loss to South Africa this month.
He scored 7,037 Test runs and took 121 catches, a record for a non-wicketkeeper and last week’s Test with the Proteas was his 100th Test match for England.
Dismissing the influence of the Pietersen row, which saw the batsmen ousted from the side for last week’s third Test following sending text messages to the Proteas camp reportedly criticising Strauss and coach Andy Flower, Strauss said:
“I first spoke to Andy (Flower) about it prior to the Kevin Pietersen situation and said I would talk to him at end of the (South Africa) series. By the time I spoke to him again my mind was made up and I think he knew that.”
Strauss added: “It’s a very tough decision. For me the driver to it all quite frankly was my form with the bat. In truth I haven’t battled well enough for a long time now.
“I think for a captain to perform his role properly, it’s important you’re not a passenger in the side, but also that people aren’t speculating as to whether you should be in the side or not. I think that would have been too big a distraction to the side going forward.
“It’s a hugely sad moment in many ways.”
Strauss’ form has took an evident dip in recent series with the captain failing in his charactersistic duty to post a score to lead the England innings by example against the South Africans, with the decision clearly made with dignity concerning the interests of the England team.
Alistair Cook, Strauss’ fellow opening partner for England in recent years will take over as Test captain and has already replaced Strauss as One-Day captain in 2011. Srauss’ successor said of his former captain:
“He has been a fantastic captain. He has led from the front for three and a half years and is a true ambassador for the game.
“To have played 100 Tests for your country is a phenomenal achievement and I want to congratulate him on a superb career.
“I know this can’t have been an easy decision for him and everyone in the dressing room will be sad to see him go.
“I’m very excited by this new challenge, it is a huge honour to be appointed Test captain and am very much looking forward to captaining the side in India this winter and beyond but my immediate focus is on this current NatWest one day series.
“Once the series is over I will turn my attention to the Test captaincy and building on the work Andrew has started.”
England are currently one-nil down in the 5-match ODI series versus South Africa after yesterday’s defeat in the second match in Southampton. The first match was abandoned due to rain and it has been revealed that spinner Grame Swann will be rested for the rest of the series.
Today however focuses upon reflections of the career of one of Enbgland’s most successful cricketers and captains.