Strauss eager to set example
Andrew Strauss knows the best captains lead from the front, and is determined to do so again for England in the second Test against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi.
It would be far from fair to suggest that Strauss has been unproductive in recent times, even though he has managed just one century in his last 42 Test innings, stretching back to Lord’s in the 2009 Ashes.
There have been 10 fifties in that period. But that is not the point, as England’s skipper and opening batsman readily admits.
Strauss and Alastair Cook will open together for the 100th time, as England urgently seek to fight back in this three-match series after their unexpected defeat in Dubai.
For many reasons then, it would be a fitting stage for Strauss to build a dominant innings.
“It’s obviously 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.”
Strauss was not alone as an England batsman with cause for regret at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, where the top six were particularly fallible against Saeed Ajmal and then Umar Gul.
“As an opening batsman it can be challenging at times,” added the 34-year-old.
“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.”
Strauss’ twin duties as batsman and captain are a mixed blessing.
“Over-analysing your game and getting too concerned by technical worries or whatever can put you in a bad place mentally,” he said.
“But generally I’ve found being captain has helped my game, and I hope that’ll continue.
“I think maybe when you’re young and naive you’re always looking for that magic answer - so you’ll be changing your technique, trying different things in the nets.
“I think when you’re a bit older you realise the best thing is to keep everything the same, keep your preparation the same, don’t have too many concerns about your technique and make sure you watch the ball.
“Anyone who is under any illusion that Test match cricket gets any easier as you get older is wrong.”
England face a tough examination of their world number one credentials as they aim to overturn a 1-0 deficit in just two remaining matches.
“It’s a big challenge for us, and one that I’m personally looking forward to,” said Strauss.
“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 the game of 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 there have been plenty of instances in the last few years where history has been against us and we’ve been able to overturn that.”
Strauss’ opposite number Misbah-ul-Haq has a different trick to pull off to make sure his team get their psychology right, and stay ahead.
“England are the number one team, and we expect they can come back at any time,” he said.
“We’ve forgotten what happened in the first match. It’s a totally different ball game now.”