Andrew Strauss: I heard Alastair Cook’s run-out while driving on the A40 and it sounds like he's had a bloody nightmare

Strauss talks to Angus Fraser about his successor as England captain, Alastair Cook, how he is adjusting to life after cricket and gearing up to run the London Marathon

Like many England cricket fans Andrew Strauss has been getting up early this week. But unlike most early risers it was not to turn on the television to watch the remarkable Alastair Cook create another piece of history. Strauss is currently responsible for the school run, though it is hard to believe he gets past the school gates without someone passing comment on the ever-improving performances of the England team in India.

Many international cricketers seem to find it hard to slip into the routine of normal life but the former England captain seemed to be handling the change pretty well when I met him in at Lord's at 8am yesterday morning.

Alastair Cook had just been run out for 190 and as he walked into my office I asked him if he had seen the dismissal. "No," he replied. "I heard it on the radio as I was driving in on the A40 and it sounds like he's had a bloody nightmare." I suggested that I wouldn't mind having the nightmare Cook is currently having – he has scored three hundreds in three Tests and has now scored more Test hundreds (23) than any other England player. Strauss agreed that there are worse things than getting run out for 190.

Since retiring after England's 2012 home Test series against South Africa Strauss has maintained a fairly low profile and seems happy away from the stresses and strains of captaining the national side.

Angus Fraser: How have you found watching a team that was previously yours play in India?

Andrew Strauss: I have found it really interesting. I have not watched every ball but I have watched quite a lot of it. It is a strange sort of mindset because part of you seems so close to it and you are watching it with a semi-captain's eye, imagining what you would do in those sort of circumstances. But part of you also feels a long way away. The game, as is always the case, moves on without you and I am now nothing more than a genuinely interested spectator.

It has been incredible to watch the turnaround in the last Test and a half. Great credit must go to Alastair and the rest of the lads for the way in which they have come back from what happened in Ahmedabad to play so assuredly on a turning pitch in Mumbai and to then do what they seem to be doing now in Kolkata.

AF: Have you ever felt like picking the phone up?

AS: I have sent a few text messages (laughing, realising the irony of his reply) in which I have tried to be supportive. I have close relationships with both Alastair and Andy Flower. We have been through a lot together but I certainly haven't been trying to stick my nose in anything.

AF: Cook has scored three hundreds in three Tests in India and five hundreds in the five Tests he has captained England. Has the fact he has been able to combine captaincy and form so well surprised you?

AS: I am not massively surprised that Alastair has achieved this because when he became one-day captain he transformed his one-day game. Then he went from being a slightly gritty plodder into someone suddenly capable of playing an expansive game.

I think when you take over as captain, mindset-wise, it really helps you. You are obviously determined to lead from the front and to set the right example. You walk a bit taller and you know you are unlikely to be dropped any time soon. It puts you in a good mindset to go out there and to make the most of any good form you have.

He has an incredible temperament for Test cricket. He is very calm. He doesn't look too far ahead. He literally does play the game one ball at a time. He has a great defensive technique and there is no ego to his game. In his batting there is a complete lack of emotion, which is perfect. Underneath there must be a lot of emotion but he allows his mind to control any nerves, frustration or fire in his belly. He will not get carried away and it is great to see him do what he is doing because how you start your reign as captain does have a huge affect on how people view you. That he has performed as he has will set everybody's mind at ease. It shows to everyone that you can compartmentalise and cope with the dual demands of the job.

AF: You opened with him on his debut in Nagpur. Did you then think he would turn out to be this good?

AS: At that stage it was impossible to make those sort of predictions. He had come in with a big reputation. There was a lot of talk about him but he was still a youngster, and youngsters in English cricket tend to be some way from the finished article.

He was confident, talking freely early on in a team meeting in Pakistan about how to play Danish Kaneria. He was impressive right from the start. He was a young guy who knew his mind and wasn't intimidated about being in the England team.

On debut it was a class performance. He did what he is doing now – he took his time, didn't get flustered and worked his way through his gears. It is unusual in English cricket to see someone come in and show they are right for Test cricket from ball one. There are very few who come in at the age of 21 and perform like that. He's 27 now and he will go on, barring injuries, to set a marker in terms of runs scored that will be tough for any Englishman to beat.

AF: I struggle to work Cook out. To me he looks awkward – his head at times falls over, he seems to play around his front pad and often closes the face of his bat. You feel it is just a matter of time before he gets out. But then, four hours later, he is still there unbeaten on 107. He is a remarkable player. What to you is his strongest asset?

AS: His technique is ungainly but effective. The most important thing is finding a way to keep the good balls out. It doesn't really matter where you score your runs as long as you know where you're looking to score. And he does just this. His game has expanded over the years. He used to just punch the ball down the ground and be very strong off his legs. He has always been a fantastic puller and hooker but now he can also drive it through the off-side better and cut the ball well. He plays spin better too. He is more aggressive. He sweeps the ball well and is not afraid to hit the spinners over the top.

Of the players I have played with he is the best at dealing with periods where he doesn't score runs or feeling out of touch. Off the field we all go through periods where we doubt ourselves but on the field he has this sort of serene mindset that is very impressive.

AF: Enough of Cook, what are you up to at the moment?

AS: Post-retirement the plan was always to take a few months off to spend a bit of time at home, to let everything settle and start planning what is next. I am still in that gardening leave stage but in the new year I will be looking to start putting things together, to get my teeth into something. It will be a combination of things to start with – some media work, some cricket administration, as well as looking to develop a business around leadership and management consultancy.

AF: You are now on the International Cricket Council's Cricket Committee; will this be your first taste of cricket administration?

AS: Yes. I have always been quite interested to know how cricket administration really works. I also have some strong views on the state of the game and, hopefully, I can try to influence the way the game goes in the future. It is probably not the only thing that I will do in an administrator capacity but it gives me a nice chance to dip my toe in the water. There are some weighty figures on the ICC cricket committee so it will be great to listen to what they have to say and to learn a thing or two off them.

AF: I gather you are running the London Marathon too. I did it last year – do you think you are determined enough to get round?

AS: Yes, and I hope to beat your time, what was it, five hours? I am doing it for a number of reasons. It is an opportunity to raise funds for the Lord's Taverners, which is a fantastic cricket charity. It is also a mini-challenge. It gets you out of the house during the winter and stops you eating, drinking and [looking across the desk] putting on weight as some former cricketers have done. In a year or two's time I would still like to be able to use the same hole on my belt buckle.

AF: When I retired from cricket I felt the same, in that I wanted to stay in reasonable shape, something as you so kindly highlighted I have failed to do. But to do this I too needed something to aim for. As a sportsman you have a conception of what a day's work is and if it doesn't involve some sort of physical act you have not done anything productive.

AS: Yes, I think so. For the first couple of months after I retired I did very little. For years going to the gym and keeping fit was part of my life, but I was then finding a reason not to do it. The fact I am doing the marathon brings training back to being one of the first things I do and I am happier doing that.

[Again looking at me] You can get caught on a slippery slope if you don't. Being fit keeps you mentally sharper too.

AF: Ruth, your wife, is doing it too?

AS: Yes, it is one of those things they call a "shared experience".

AF: Do you intend to run with her?

AS: Hopefully not. I am hoping to be a little closer to the front of the pack but I'll wait for her at the finishing line. Hopefully. These may be famous last words.

AF: On that note I think we should finish.

peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions