Monday, 20 June 2011

Sending Strauss To Somerset is Silly

Andrew Strauss didn't score many runs during the Sri Lanka test series. In fact, he took more catches than the runs that he averaged, which is never a good thing. In an attempt to play him into a bit of form, Strauss has been told to pack his bags and get down to Taunton, to turn out for Somerset in their tour match against India.

On the face of it, it seems fairly shrewd. Strauss has the opportunity to fill his boots on the most notoriously batter friendly pitch in the country, and score a few mental points against India. He has the chance to get himself back where he wants to be mentally, and to assert his status as England captain, opener and talisman.

But in reality, it's all quite unnecessary. Cast your minds back a few weeks. Strauss was playing in a match, on batting friendly conditions, against the touring side who he would face in the test series. On that occasion, Strauss was playing for Middlesex against Sri Lanka at Uxbridge, and he was in fine fettle, barnstorming his way to 150. That's a Sri Lankan side that included the "arch nemesis" Chanaka Welegedara, who was getting him out for fun in the tests. Later that week, Strauss went on to Lord's with Middlesex, and made an equally as impressive hundred against Glamorgan. That was two hundreds in two games, and to all he appeared to be in sparkling form and ready to take on the world.

Of course, what transpired was that when it came down to it he struggled for runs, and didn't look all too great while doing so. Scores of 20, 4, 0 and 3 in his four knocks, at an average of 6.75. Sparkling it was not. So why was his triumphant run of form halted so suddenly in the test matches?

Well, quite simply, what came before the tests had no relevance to what happened throughout the series. In two games Strauss batted well, and then in three other games he didn't. This doesn't make him a bad player. This doesn't mean his place is under threat. This doesn't make him such a worry that he has to be shipped out on loan to Somerset so he can try and score runs against the Indian attack. We saw that his runs against Sri Lanka at Uxbridge meant very little in the actual nitty gritty. If he gets a duck at Taunton it doesn't mean he won't score a century in the first test. It all smacks of unnecessary panic from the powers that be because everyone is in form except the undroppable captain, and he needs to get himself into form quick.

Instead of being fitted up for his Somerset club blazer, Strauss should be sitting with his feet up while the rest of the boys play in the ODIs, or even better, playing in the T20s for Middlesex. If Strauss needs one thing at the moment, it's to feel bat on ball, which is exactly what he'd do if he were to play in the T20s (even though he's effectively retired from all limited over cricket). What he doesn't need is the spotlight to follow him to Somerset and to be singled out as a "problem player". Whether Strauss makes runs or not for Somerset is irrelevant. As he knows best, it's what happens during the test matches that matter, which makes the decision to send him to Taunton very silly indeed.

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