Andrew Strauss was given the unenviable privilege of captaining England in the first Test against Pakistan at Lord’s. He is not only a stand-in, but a stand-in for a stand-in (a double stand-in?). He failed to summon or convey any sense of authority in the first three days of this Test yet today struck a hundred to silence those who, perhaps, felt he was weak of character and lacking in authority. However his quality and authority as a batsman has never been in doubt, and the first three days remain a slight concern.
He joined unique company, too, today; only Allan Lamb and Archie MacLaren have made hundreds on their captaincy debut. To do it at Lord’s, his home ground and where two years ago he made a hundred on his Test match debut, gave the occasion added posterity and wistfulness. His celebration on reaching three figures was noteworthy too; gone were the youthful arm-swinging and bat-waving of 2004. In its place, both arms were calmly raised in a gesture which perhaps signalled his relief in leading from the front as he intended. Although he had just run out Ian Bell…
He is no Flintoff. There is a diffidence and reverancey to his character; he is a potentially fine writer on the game, an erudite reader of match situations and ever since his debut has been earmarked as a Future England Captain. Unlike Flintoff’s “follow me into battle, guys”, his calm air might serve him and England well in the forthcoming months.
The first three days are nevertheless a real concern though. Nothing much happened. And when nothing happened, he did little to affect a change. A resigned smile, hunched shoulders and much chewing of nails did little to stop Mohammad Yousuf, much as it will do nothing to stop Ricky Ponting and co. in the winter. Without the tongue-lashing of Michael Vaughan England rather drifted along. Well done, Strauss, but Flintoff’s my man for the Ashes.Desper