Sport has a fascinating way of writing a script that provides a certain element of déjà vu.
This is no truer than in the case of now former England captain Andrew Strauss. At Wednesday lunchtime, at the home of cricket, Lords’, it was announced that Strauss was to retire from professional cricket.
Strauss’ retirement comes in the aftermath of a disagreement between Kevin Pietersen and the England hierarchy much in the same fashion that he took over some six years ago.
Although many of the press who made the trip to St John’s Wood appeared to be of the opinion that the Middlesex batsman’s decision was directly influenced by the furore over Pietersen’s recent absence from the team Strauss made it clear that form was the deciding factor.
“For me the driver to it all quite frankly was my form with the bat. In truth, I haven’t batted well enough for a long time now. I think I have run my race.”
During his tenure Strauss’ honesty and frank manner when in front of the press had always been a character of his captaincy, pointed out during the press conference by Test Match Special’s Jonathan Agnew, and this was true of England’s second-most successful skipper when delivering his statement.
“I am extremely proud of everything I have achieved as a cricketer and I have found myself very fortunate to play in an era when some of English cricket’s greatest moments have occurred. I have loved every minute of it.
“It hasn’t been something that occurred overnight. It has built over a few months. I would like to go out on my own terms and with my head held high and I think this is the right time.”
In going out Strauss becomes the third consecutive England captain to leave his post in the wake of a series loss to Graeme Smith’s South Africa, a trend that future England captains will be certain to want to buck.
It would appear however that, according to some it is not simply his form that has led Strauss to come to his decision.
Commentators, journalists, coaches and players both past and present took to twitter in order to pay tribute to Strauss’ achievements, one of whom being former England batsman Paul Collingwood.
Collingwood’s tweet immediately after the press conference read: “Andrew Strauss should be very proud what he’s done for English cricket and everything he’s achieved, great man and great leader.”
A matter of hours later the Durham batsman revealed that it might not just have been his form that has brought Strauss to his decision to step away from cricket as a whole.
“Straussy bought a dog last year. You don’t buy a dog to leave it at home whilst you’re touring India! Golf and dog walking for him now!”, Collingwood added via Twitter no doubt with tongue firmly in cheek.
Strauss bows out of the international cricket arena as ninth in England’s all-time run-scorers list with 7,037 runs at an average of 40.91 during his 100 test matches.
With 24 wins in his 50 matches as skipper only Michael Vaughan won more matches as captain and Strauss broke the news to his England players, many of whom he had played with under Vaughan, via letters explaining his decision to step down.
Regardless of the Kevin Pietersen created and shaped cloud that looms over England cricket upon Andrew Strauss’ retirement no one can doubt the esteem in which the three time Ashes winner (twice as captain) was held in after it was revealed he received 100 bottles of wine from the dressing room upon the news.
The task of leading England back to the top of world test cricket is now left to Strauss’ opening partner and one-day captain Alistair Cook who was under no illusions of what a legacy the fellow left-handed will leave.
“Obviously I’ve got huge boots to fill,” said Cook. “It feels like I’ve spent all my England career walking out to bat with him. Unfortunately it might mean I have to take the first ball now.”