Strauss aware of Vodafone omens
Andrew Strauss is hoping history repeats itself this summer as he seeks to add Ashes success to personal recognition.
It was back in early 2005 that Strauss won Vodafone’s England Player of the Year award for the first time.
By the end of that summer the Ashes were England’s for the first time in a generation - and by the end of the year, the whole squad were lauded in the Honours list.
Strauss’ first challenge of this season will come at Lord’s tomorrow when the first Test of just two in the npower series gives them the chance to win back the Wisden Trophy lost to the West Indies during the winter.
But after collecting his award from the England team sponsors in the Long Room at HQ last night - alongside World Cup winner and women’s team recipient Claire Taylor - he dared to cast his mind a little further forward.
“This is the second time I have won this award, and I regard it as a great honour to be named Vodafone England Player of the Year,” said 32-year-old Strauss, who had a run-laden winter for his country in India and the Caribbean.
“The last time was in 2004, and I received the award in early 2005. Let’s hope that this is an omen for this extremely exciting summer ahead.”
Strauss inherited the England captaincy from Kevin Pietersen at the start of this year. But it was long before that when the left-handed opener began his telling run of form.
“Last year was memorable for me - starting with a hundred in New Zealand - and I was fortunate enough to end the 12 months with two centuries in the same game in Chennai against India,” he recalled.
“I would like to thank Vodafone for this award and all the awards for outstanding individual achievements. I know all the England players treasure these awards.”
One of England’s other success stories of the past 12 months has been pace bowler James Anderson, now the lynchpin of an attack likely this week to feature two debutant seamers in Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan against Chris Gayle’s tourists.
Anderson was Strauss’ ‘go-to’ man with the ball for much of a winter played on flat pitches - and he knows he will again carry the burden of responsibility.
The Lancashire seamer is also well aware of England’s bizarre inability to win the first Test of any of their past 14 series.
There is mitigation, according to Anderson - who is nonetheless determined to set the record straight.
“The first Test against India here [in 2007] we had them nine down and it rained,” he remembers.
“Things like that don’t help - but it is something we are looking to put right.”
Anderson has renewed confidence too in his own ability, having often found it difficult to consolidate after his eye-catching entrance into international cricket six years ago.
He was happy to get some overs under his belt for Lancashire at the start of this season - a scenario which would have been almost unthinkable under the regime of former coach Duncan Fletcher.
“When I got home from the West Indies I had a week doing very little - and I felt I needed to get back playing,” he said.
“That is why I asked to play in the first one-day game of the season and the first championship game.”
He chose not to take part in a second four-day game - but believes it is a step in the right direction, first under Peter Moores and now Andy Flower, that centrally-contracted players can more easily play for their counties.
“It can be difficult to judge. But there is a better system in place now, where the players have more of a say in communicating with the coach and the medical staff,” he said.