James Lawton: With his usual class, Andrew Strauss proves the doubters wrong

Strauss refused to accept that he had lost his ability to lead a highly competitive team and score a few runs

It's just as well Andrew Strauss isn't the kind of guy to hoard vindication. Otherwise, he might have been seriously tetchy when he was required to leave the batting crease at Trent Bridge yesterday with England just a few runs short of series victory over the West Indians.

The point you could hardly avoid is that Strauss, of all leading English sportsmen, is possibly in least need of the passing gratification that comes with a rush of glory. He knows what he has done, for himself as a cricketer and for the team he has nursed so successfully for so long.

This reality can be measured in every nuance of his reaction to victory and the extremely occasional defeat.

If someone like John Terry rushes to the spotlight, as he did in a way that made the flesh crawl in Munich recently, Strauss is a rather different kind of captain. He knows what he has done – and what he might just achieve again.

He wasn't thrilled of course at his premature exit, not with a mere 45 against his name – after the two straight centuries which have left him one short of the record 22 mark of Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoff Boycott – but then when he stretched out in the dressing room he could indulge in some fully fledged self-satisfaction.

Most of it, surely, had to centre on the fact that in the often treacherous business of captaincy few men have ever re-exerted themselves quite so impressively.

For some of us, it may have been a phantom threat to his leadership after the difficulties against Pakistan and Sri Lanka but undoubtedly some pressure was building. He pined for a century after 50 Test innings and nearly two years and of course he had been around cricket long enough to know that nothing feeds on itself quite so voraciously as a morsel of doubt.

At Lord's and at Trent Bridge, Strauss produced again that quality that has so distinguished his stewardship of England alongside coach Andy Flower.

He went back to the basics of his own game and got it right and perfectly so. He took nothing for granted in his own position and demanded no less of players who yesterday scored a seventh straight series win at home – and retrenched their position as the world's No 1 Test team before the coming challenge of South Africa.

You do not do this out of some knee-jerk reaction to passing crisis. You do not re-make yourself under the recurring pressure of world-class sport. If you have done your work, and learned your lessons, you simply apply the values you have come to trust.

They are the ones that have informed Strauss every step of England's march from the shambles that followed the divisions which led to the resignation of Kevin Pietersen to their current position of strength.

Such details of progress tend to be lost from time to time. When Pakistan were working their resurrection in the Emirates, the achievements of Strauss since that first setback in Jamaica were suddenly lost from sight. The crunching Ashes triumphs were of distant memory. The discarding of India suddenly meant little. But what Strauss refused to accept was that he had lost his ability to both lead a highly competitive team and score a few runs. It is his style to take such positions with remarkable equability.

Once again there was little hint of triumphalism in his victory speech yesterday. He paid tribute to those pockets of serious West Indian resistance which required bursts of excellence from men like Tim Bresnan, Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and, certainly not least, himself. He regretted those moments when England could have been more clinical but overall they had fought hard to inflict their status as the world's No 1 team. They had been required to get a little stronger at some brittle places.

That, of course, was the least that could be said for the stylish resistance of the notorious under-achiever Marlon Samuels and the menace of Kemar Roach. Yes, it's true, the West Indians still lack so much of the old steel, the consistent ability to produce bold and sumptuous cricket, but there have been times when they have questioned England, not least when Samuels heaved Graeme Swann for two massive sixes yesterday morning as they ebbed towards final defeat.

The Test and the series was over then but it was a last statement that in different circumstances the West Indians might have proved more of a threat. These, though, would have involved an England team which had forgotten how to turn the screw, especially on its own soil, and one which had lost belief in the leadership of the man who had taken them to the top of the world.

At 35, Strauss is not likely to permit such laxity any time soon. Plainly he has the stomach for a few more battles – and a sharpened hunger for at least a century or two of runs. Of course, there is more than one way of hoarding a bit of vindication.

Platini must now act after Campbell's warning

It may have been tempting to believe that Sol Campbell was being somewhat alarmist when he warned black and Asian fans that the price of watching England in Ukraine could be a trip home in a coffin.

It is the kind of imagery that tends not to enliven Foreign Office advisories but then it is hard to imagine any warning as starkly dramatic as the one contained in the images BBC Panorama presented to the former England defender before last night's shocking broadcast.

The one that no doubt most provoked Campbell's reaction was of a young Asian fan who, having retreated, dazed and battered from an assault launched by young, Hitler-saluting thugs, was then attacked once more, almost casually by a passing youth. Police watched with what could only be described as mild curiosity.

If Uefa president Michel Platini was not yesterday beating on the doors of the Ukraine authorities demanding the strongest action – as in the rounding-up of known ringleaders who are not exactly stealthy in their hatred – both he and his organisation must stand guilty of the gravest negligence.

Euro 2012 was supposed to be about a gift of encouragement to a region in sore need of a benign gesture, a helping hand. However, as Sol Campbell has pointed out without a breath of exaggeration, it is surely one that cannot be allowed to threaten innocent lives.

Quins' victory does not absolve Richards' sins

Could it be that Harlequins' fine win in the Premiership final only temporarily affected the balance of their director of rugby Conor O'Shea's understanding of what is most important in any sport?

Let us hope so in the wake of his assertion that in the defeat of Leicester the last traces of the Bloodgate scandal had been wiped away. Three years is a brief time in which to assign such monumental cheating to a forgotten past but you wouldn't have thought so listening to the tribute by O'Shea to Dean Richards, the man who managed to corrupt the thinking of an entire team.

Here is O'Shea's warm contribution to the rehabilitation of the recently appointed boss of Jonny Wilkinson's old club Newcastle, "Our performance is a massive tribute to many, including Dean Richards, who put so many of the structures in place. You worry how Newcastle will go in the next few years under his control."

Yes, of course you do – but maybe not in the way O'Shea intended.

From Richards, there has also been a startling declaration. It is that for the moment at least he has no hard ambition to coach England. It seems they have still a lot of work to do.

It's not true you couldn't make it up. But it probably helps when you operate where, apparently, just about anything goes.

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering