Andrew Strauss knows the best captains lead from the front, and it is time he did so again for England.
Strauss, set to face Pakistan tomorrow without Chris Tremlett because of the fast bowler’s sore back, ought not to have a sleepless night before the second Test on that score – but does have troublesome issues closer to home.
Steven Finn or Graham Onions should prove an able deputy for Tremlett at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. But more vexing for Strauss, and England, is the captain’s long run without a Test century.
His 19th hundred to date at the highest level is his only one in his last 42 innings, stretching back to Lord’s in the 2009 Ashes.
It would be far from fair to say Strauss has been unproductive in that time. There have been 10 half-centuries. But that is not the point, says England’s captain and opening batsman as England seek to fight back in this three-match series after their crushing defeat in Dubai.
“It’s disappointing – and certainly not getting runs in the last game was – but having been around the Test match scene for a while now, I know form ebbs and flows,” he said.
“One innings can completely change both your perspective and others’ perspective in how well you’re playing.
“So I’m not over-fussed about it but I’m conscious it’s important as a captain you lead from the front with regards to scoring runs. As an opening batsman it can be challenging at times.
“But all you can do is accept the challenge and make sure you prepare yourself properly – and when you get in a position to score a big hundred you do that.
“That’s probably where I’ve let myself down a little over the last year or so – when I’ve got to 50 or 60 I’ve got out rather than gone on.” With or without Tremlett, England face a tough examination of their world No 1 credentials – to overturn a 1-0 deficit in just two remaining matches.
“It’s a big challenge, and one that I’m personally looking forward to,” added the 34-year-old. “We clearly let ourselves down. We’ve got to hold our hands up and say ‘No excuses for that. . . we didn’t play well enough’. But that’s okay. You’re not going to get everything your own way in cricket, and it’s how you come back from setbacks that is the true measure of a side.
“We have got ourselves in a difficult position and have to win these last two Test matches. But we’ve forgotten what happened in the first match. It’s a totally different ball game now.”