Strauss needs a total revival

What do England do with Andrew Strauss now? Even his most ardent fan would have to admit that his second-innings 44 at the Basin Reserve was far from convincing.

Yes, he fought hard on a testing pitch, like a man playing for his Test future. And yes, he was probably unlucky to be given out lbw to a ball that pitched just outside leg stump. But for the second consecutive Test since his recall he has failed to post a significant score or play an innings to convince people that better times lie ahead.

What the selectors have to decide before next week's Third Test in Napier is whether Strauss has the potential to regain the form that made him one of the most respected and highly thought-of cricketers in the world. It will not be an easy decision, because Strauss brings far more to the England team than merely runs and catches.

He is a strong, emotionally consistent, hard-working, selfless, team-orientated man who sets the right example to team-mates, whether younger or older.

It is these qualities, as muchas the belief that the form he showed between 2004 and 2006 would return, which encouraged Michael Vaughan and Peter Moores to select him for this tour, even though he had done nothing to show that he had overcome the problems that have been affecting his game.

Captains and coaches want Strauss-like characters, natural leaders, in their team. The great Australian side of the past decade consistently contained eight or nine such figures. The departure of Marcus Trescothick and Ashley Giles has deprived Vaughan of two such characters, and this would have influenced his handling of Strauss.

Such a player still has to perform to retain the total respect of the dressing room, though, and that is why Strauss needed a big innings here. The selectors set a much-needed precedent when they dropped Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison, a move that has had a positive influence on the team's performance, and Strauss will be fully aware he could follow them in the not-too-distant future.

Such a situation can only exacerbate his anxiety because he, like any England player, has a lot to lose, both financially and emotionally. Being demoted to three, a batting position that does not appear ideally suited to him, does not help either, but he has brought it all on himself by failing to score enough runs when opening.

The best No 3s dominate opponents, often setting the tone of an innings. Strauss has strong scoring areas but does not possess the aura or threat of No 3s such as Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara, Rahul Dravid or Younis Khan.

It is not only Strauss who is unsettled by the uncertainty. Owais Shah, his Middlesex team-mate, must be wondering what he has to do to get a Test berth. Shah has spent the entire Test winter ferrying drinks out to batsmen and running shuttles during the lunch and tea intervals. In the warm-up games he has played he has done little wrong, but the selectors must doubt his ability to succeed. Why else would they have picked Ravi Bopara ahead of him in Sri Lanka and Strauss here?

Meanwhile, at 29 he is slowly getting older, and it will not be long before the selectors turn to youth for the middle order.

Michael Atherton used to say ugly 40s were the most important innings he played, because they kept him his place and gave him another chance to find form. Strauss has probably done enough to keep his place for the final Test in Napier, but Shah could replace him if the selectors look to shake the batting up for the first Test of the summer. A victory for England here would obviously lessen Shah's chances.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism