I was a dead man walking… Strauss is far from that
21:42 GMT, 30 March 2012
Andrew Strauss has not reached the point where he should consider his future but he will know when he goes out to bat in the second Test in Colombo next week that something has changed.
It has changed because he has now been asked in a press conference for the first time whether he has taken England as far as he can and once that sort of thought is in the public domain there will perhaps be a sense in Strauss’s mind that the vultures are circling.
He will be wondering, maybe subconsciously, whether people are questioning his leadership.
Reckless: Strauss hits straight to Dilshan at short mid-wicket
To me, any suggestion Strauss should retire if things do not go well in the second Test is premature.
There is no question the captain retains the full support of both his team and the powers that be at the ECB and that is exactly how it should be right now.
People have short memories. It was not much longer than a year ago that Strauss was leading England to the Ashes in Australia and it was only at the end of last summer that he spearheaded a 4-0 whitewash of India to take his side to the top of the world.
Think back to where England were when Strauss and Andy Flower took over at the start of 2009 in the aftermath of the Kevin Pietersen-Peter Moores affair and you remember how far they have come in a relatively short space of time.
End of the road: Nasser Hussain knew it was time to quit as captain in 2003
Yes, they have lost four Tests this winter and questions have to be asked of England’s batting, but that does not mean the time is right to sack a captain who has achieved so much. We just have a tendency to always think that change will be for the better.
We know that Strauss will not be pushed should this series against Sri Lanka end in defeat but is there any possibility that he will jump, as I did and as other captains have done
The answer again, I believe, is no. Strauss does not look as if he has reached the stage where his brain is scrambled and he is starting to question whether he really is the best man to lead England.
My case was very different. For a start I was a worrier but I think Strauss is a very secure sort of character.
Struggling for form: Strauss has not been in good knick with the bat for a while
I was completely frazzled by the time I handed over to Michael Vaughan and, in truth, after the emotional upheaval of the Zimbabwe World Cup affair, I was a dead man walking.
Strauss is far from that.
But there is no question that Strauss needs runs. He only has one Test hundred in his last 48 innings and the captain needs to deliver as a batsman for his own peace of mind as a leader.
The bottom line for him and the bulk of the England batsmen is that they still do not play spin well on slow-turning pitches. Simple as that.
An unhappy time: Strauss came in and picked up the pieces after the Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores fall out
Flower tried to protect them after the Pakistan series by saying that he was to blame for not providing enough preparation but England cannot say that now after losing the first Test in Galle.
Strauss’s problems are heightened because he has given up one-day cricket and was not able to bat himself back into form in the 50-over game as Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen did in the UAE.
He has had just four Tests this winter and, as he is a touch player, he has not been able to get into the rhythm of batting. Ian Bell’s the same.
England are not the only side who struggle in alien conditions — think Sri Lanka and India in England last summer — but that does not mean that these batsmen cannot get it right next week and in that all-important series in India next winter.
Another disappointment: Strauss walks off after being dismissed in the second innings
Strauss should remember that he once scored two centuries in a Test in Chennai and Cook should remember that he scored a hundred on Test debut in Nagpur.
Above all, they should follow the example of Jonathan Trott, who showed them in Galle that batting in subcontinental conditions is not all about block, block, slog. They have to get their tempo right above everything else.
I don’t see a long queue of young openers who would be able to play the pace of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Co as well as Strauss when South Africa come to England this summer.
Carry on captain: Hussain sees no reason why Strauss won't still be captain for the back to back Ashes series in 2013
I believe the captain will and should be in charge for that series. And there is every chance he will do enough to still be captain for the back-to-back Ashes series next year.
For the moment, though, there is no place for him and the other batsmen to hide. They are not playing on spitting cobra pitches. They are not playing against Murali — they are playing against a spinner in Rangana Herath who you would not fear if he came up against you in a county match.
They have to wake up and realise that they are good enough to get their heads down and score runs in Colombo.
Led by their captain.