Strauss resigns England captaincy
Cricket:Andrew Strauss today described his decision to step down as England Test captain as being in the “best interest” of the national team. Strauss confirmed his retirement from all forms of the game at a lunchtime press conference at Lord’s.The 35-year-old’s decision brings down the curtain on a 100-Test career that peaked with an Ashes victory in Australia 18 months ago. But since then Strauss’ form has dipped and after his side relinquished their place at the top of the Test rankings after the recent 2-0 series defeat against South Africa he believes the time was right to leave the game.
“After much thought over the last few weeks, I have decided to step down as England Test captain and announce my retirement from all forms of cricket. It has clearly been a tough decision to make but I believe that it is both in the best interests of the England cricket team and myself to step down at this stage.
“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.”
The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed that Strauss would be replaced by Alastair Cook, who flanked his opening partner at today’s press conference. Cook paid tribute to his former skipper and admitted he would be a tough act to follow ahead of his first Test series in charge in India later this year.
“Andrew’s contribution to England cricket in recent years is evident to everyone who follows the sport but only those of us who have been lucky enough to share a dressing room with him are fully aware of his immense contribution to our success,” Cook said.
“He has been a fantastic captain, 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 won 24 of those 50 Tests under Strauss, making him the national team’s third most experienced leader and the second most successful behind Michael Vaughan.
The Middlesex batsman also led the side to home and away Ashes triumphs as well as their surge to world number one last summer, the first time England had held the position since the rankings were introduced.
That position was, however, lost following a summer of unrest highlighted by Kevin Pietersen’s axing from the England set-up. Pietersen admitted to, and apologised, for sending text messages to members of the South African team before he was left out of the third Test at Lord’s earlier this month.
Strauss was reportedly at the centre of some of the “derogatory” messages and was due to meet the South African-born batsman for clear-the-air talks.
Strauss denied the controversy had prompted his decision. “No, not in anyway, I’ve been speaking about it for a while. I first spoke to Andy (Flower) about it prior to the Kevin Pietersen incident rearing its head; it just hasn’t been a consideration at all.
“I first spoke to Andy about this a few weeks ago and said I’m considering it and 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. 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.”