Dedicated Strauss puts theories into practice to the delight of Lord's

Andrew Strauss is the sort of bloke you hate. England's batting sensation from the first Test at Lord's is confident, intelligent and one of those guys who is good at any sport he decides to play. He represented Durham University at rugby, golf and cricket before signing professional terms with Middlesex in 1997.

Andrew Strauss is the sort of bloke you hate. England's batting sensation from the first Test at Lord's is confident, intelligent and one of those guys who is good at any sport he decides to play. He represented Durham University at rugby, golf and cricket before signing professional terms with Middlesex in 1997.

With a seven iron in his hand the 27-year-old thinks he is Phil Mickelson, and when the implement becomes a tennis racket he then transforms himself into Greg Rusedski. But golf is the sport he chooses to play when his wife, Ruth, allows him. A handicap of seven suggests he is a pretty mean golfer but he does tend to get a bit twitchy when faced with a two-foot putt.

In fact the only game he has been found wanting at is cards but this will only be because he is yet to perfect a theory on the pastime. Strauss is one of the quiet members of the dressing-room. When he is out he will sit in the corner thinking up a complex and contradictory thesis on the subject being discussed. In his posh, loud voice he will then announce it to his team-mates, who will look at each other in bewilderment before turning their attention back to him and inquiring what substances he has been putting into his body.

Since leaving university in 1998, Strauss has become a popular member of the Middlesex staff. He is courteous to everyone and the 195 runs he scored on his Test debut will have thrilled all those working within Lord's.

That Strauss coped with the pressures of Test cricket so easily would not have surprised those who have worked with him. Since his arrival at Middlesex he stood out as a batsman of huge potential and it did not take long before Ian Gould, the former second XI coach, began saying: "We have a good one here".

At the end of his first half-season at the club the left-hander was given a couple of one-day games. In August 1998, he made his first-class debut against Hampshire at Southampton and, as at Lord's, handled matters impressively, scoring 83. After a couple of summers learning from Australia's Justin Langer at Lord's, he scored more than 1,200 runs in his second full season in 2001. He repeated this feat in the following two seasons and each year his average has risen.

Nobody, however, could have predicted he would make such an impact, and in conversations with him, I don't think even he can believe it. I felt if he got a start, reaching 15 or 20, he could go on to make a positive impression. But 195 runs and a man-of-the-match award? Forget it.

Strauss could easily have chosen another career when he left university. His father, David, was the chief executive of Sedgewicks in the City, and PricewaterhouseCoopers offered him a job as a trainee accountant. Andrew's father has always been a strong influence, and both agreed that if his cricket was going nowhere he was to go into the City rather than waste time being an average county pro.

The deadline focused Strauss. It is often said that lads from a working-class background are hungrier than those from a privileged one, but this is not the case at Middlesex. Strauss is one of three talented players the county picked up from Radley College - with Ben Hutton and Jamie Dalrymple - and they are the most ambitious, hard-working English players I played with.

He is, however, a typical graduate. His mind is very organised and analytical but he is scruffy and forgetful. Strauss' corner of the dressing-room is a messy pile of kit and he loses at least one mobile phone each summer.

On one occasion he drove out of Bristol with a mobile on the roof of his sponsored car and it was run over by a team-mate in the car behind. It would quickly have been replaced by a new one with all the latest gear because Strauss loves a gadget.

He has already been spoken of as a future England captain but he is a year or two away from being up to this task. Sources tell me he was a bit rigid when he started as the captain of Middlesex but he is improving tactically and in his man-management.

His performance in the Lord's Test has put the selectors in a tough position and forced Nasser Hussain to consider retirement. Hussain is an emotional man and the comments which followed the initial success of Strauss will have hurt him. This would be a wonderful time to say goodbye but England still need Hussain and retiring would go against everything he has been preaching since he resigned as captain 10 months ago.

Since his emotional decision at Edgbaston, the 36-year-old has constantly stated that the team were his first priority and he would do everything he could to help them. I hope he carries on. If Hussain chose this moment to retire, and Michael Vaughan failed to prove his fitness for the second Test, England would be two batsmen short should they decide to play seven batsmen at Headingley. It would leave them in a vulnerable position.

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