Strauss the conductor
South African-born opener adds to classical record collection of centuries as patience pays dividends for England
Sunday 19 December 2004
If any single player symbolises England's extraordinary Test winning sequence it is Andrew Strauss. His debut, fortuitously prompted by injury, coincided with the start of a run of seven victories, and yesterday his third Test hundred in 15 innings provided with them a glorious opportunity to make it eight.
He was as convincing in St George's Park as he has been since he stepped into Michael Vaughan's shoes at the top of England's batting order at Lord's last May. An elusive combination of temperament and method have made him ideally suited for Test cricket. In making 120 not out yesterday he not only ensured that England began to repel the inexperienced South Africa side, but also created several esoteric records.
Strauss became the first England player to score hundreds in the first innings of his first Tests both at home and away. He overtook Ranjitsinjhi who almost did it, but waited until the second innings of his maiden Test. In addition, Strauss also became the first player to score hundreds on his debut against three different countries, New Zealand, West Indies and South Africa.
"I am delighted to have done it but I won't be putting it on my wall," he said afterwards. Nor was Strauss especially entranced to achieve this feat in the land of his birth. He was six when his family left. "I remember it was a lovely place to run around. I've just got the odd flash of memory."
His run around yesterday ought to lodge more firmly in the memory. Together with Marcus Trescothick he put on 152 for the first wicket and then with Mark Butcher took England to 227 without further loss, just 110 runs behind. The slow pitch is already showing signs of turn and England possess the only spinner in the match in Ashley Giles.
"Your first game against any opposition side it's important to knuckle down and try and get runs early in the series," said Strauss. "We wanted to lay down a marker for the rest of the series. It's gone fantastically well, I'm fortunate to be part of a good side. This is a very slow wicket and you have go to be patient on it and let the bowlers come to you. We did really well to put the defeat in the warm-up match out of our minds. It was disappointing but we just put it behind us."
The fear that England were undercooked for the series is beginning to look misguided. So far, they have taken advantage of South Africa's raw team by undermining their few experienced players. Only Stephen Harmison of the bowlers has looked seriously short of practice time, never finding any fluency on a placid pitch that was never likely to suit him. The concern for South Africa, of course, is that he will rediscover his momentum, and soon.
Arsenal vs Manchester City: With Arsene Wenger missing a number of key players, who could start the Community Shield clash?
Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
Manchester United: Five things we've learned so far about Louis van Gaal, including his ability to accommodate Juan Mata, Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney
Liverpool transfer news: Reds 'in talks' to sign Benfica winger Nicolas Gaitan as summer spending threatens to exceed £100m
Manchester United transfer news: Angel Di Maria set to choose between Old Trafford and PSG in next few days
- 1 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 2 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 3 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
John Barrowman praised for Commonwealth Games opening ceremony gay kiss