Strauss set for moment in the sun
Andrew Strauss can cap a great first year as England captain by being recognised on the world stage tonight.
Strauss, 32, has been shortlisted for both Cricketer of the Year and Test Player of the Year at the International Cricket Council’s awards ceremony in Johannesburg.
He played a crucial role in restoring stability to the England side after Kevin Pietersen was relieved of the England captaincy and Peter Moores’ simultaneous departure as coach in early January.
In just over nine months, however, Strauss has steadied the ship, overseen an Ashes victory and is on the eve of a Champions Trophy semi-final against Australia.
“He deserves recognition,” said England team-mate Graeme Swann. “He took over at a ridiculous time in English cricket, with the circus that was following us around at the time, and he’s done an admirable job.
“He has led from the front - he’s a very calm and reassuring leader to have.
"He has led with dignity and done everything right in his tenure so far. So it’s just desserts that he is up there. His batting has also gone through the roof.”
Seam bowler Graham Onions is England’s other player in contention for a gong, having been named in the Emerging Cricketer of the Year category.
Onions, who featured in England's Ashes success, figured in the opening two victories in Group B of the Champions Trophy which sealed their last-four tussle with Australia at Centurion tomorrow.
Few could have envisaged the turnaround in England’s fortunes, however, after witnessing their performances of the 6-1 NatWest Series defeat by Australia last month.
“That’s what makes us exciting, though, isn’t it?” said Swann, in customary playful manner. “The first few games in England we were awful and knew we were awful.
“We were talking about playing a fearless brand of cricket but it was coming across as timid as a pussy cat, really.
“But over here something has clicked. I have no idea what it is - there has been no inspiring team talk or special, magic moment, or meeting with a guru, anything like that.
“You obviously start questioning yourselves when you lose six in a row and, let’s face it, six pretty comfortable defeats as well.
“When you are in a run like we were you start to look at a total of 230-240 and think, ‘How are we going to chase that?’ When you are playing well and chasing 230-240 you walk off laughing because you think the game is wrapped up.”
All-rounder Stuart Broad underwent a scan this morning after complaining of tightness in his left buttock during the Group B defeat to New Zealand, while wicketkeeper Matt Prior was set to return to practice after missing the last two matches with a virus.
England women's captain Charlotte Edwards and colleague Sarah Taylor will contest the Women's Player of the Year award after playing starring roles in their side's all-conquering year.