Ian Baker - Andrew Strauss is class personified
28 Sep 2010 - 10:16:18
If I've ever met someone with more class than Andrew Strauss, I've yet to realise it.
Throughout the sordid match fixing allegations that have engulfed cricket over the last few weeks, the England skipper has been nothing but dignified, polite and respectful when dealing with the media.
He has come out of a testing time extremely well, showing tremendous leadership qualities.
The last month - particularly last weekend in the wake of Ijaz Butt's absurd allegations - cannot have been easy for him. But he has taken firm stances, never resorted to petty accusations or claims and come across as a genuine man of principle.
It's not just behind the scenes where Strauss has shown such great leadership. He's a remarkable tactician on the field and, let's not forget, a wonder batsman who is probably reaching his peak at just the right time.
Australia 2010-11 followed by the 2011 Cricket World Cup may just be Strauss’ time.
England have had some reasonable skippers over the last few years - Michael Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan stand out in particular. Clever characters who loved playing for their country.
But if I was a player in that England side, I'd much rather have the cool head of Strauss, the negotiator, the tactician, the person that would never let me down in public or private.
Although it has been a terrible time for cricket of late, now Pakistan have returned home England can concentrate on one of their biggest ambitions - winning a series in Australia for the first time since 1987.
They have certainly picked the right squad in my book - opting for a tall pace attack is the right move on bouncy Australian wickets while Monty Panesar, the only real contentious selection, has had success playing Ricky Ponting's men in the past.
On paper, England certainly have their best chance in Australia since 23 years ago - although the exact batting line-up has yet to be decided and must be got right.
But Strauss is perhaps the biggest reason for England optimism. Not only for the first time in years do England have a cricket team who compete with the best, but they also have a first class skipper too.
If only he had captained in Australia instead of Andrew Flintoff four years ago.