It's early, but out-of-sorts Strauss should raise the alarm
Andrew Strauss once claimed he played better after a sleepless night. He could do with setting his alarm clock for a call on the hour in Abu Dhabi, then, because if ever a man needed runs it is the England captain.
His team have been a roaring success, until they arrived in Asia at least, but he has been a worrying failure with the bat for more than a year.
His last international century was in the second innings in Brisbane, 2010, the first Test of the triumphant Ashes series.
Ton-derful: Strauss hasn't scored a Test century since Brisbane, November 2010
Until now, the high level of performance has distracted from Strauss's problem. If the team are winning, and he is their captain, why rock the boatThe logic is certainly compelling.
And then, suddenly, against Pakistan in Dubai, England were not winning. England were floundering and one of the reasons was the failure of the top-order batsmen. At which point, Strauss's dry spell became an issue.
Leading from the front: Strauss needs a prominent performance with the bat
It does not help that at the non-striker's end stands the man many see as the solution to the problem: Alastair Cook, prolific in Australia, scorer of 294 against India at Edgbaston last summer and a captain in waiting.
There will come a time for succession and on Asia's flat wickets it will arrive sooner rather than later if Strauss cannot score.
The track here in Abu Dhabi, for instance, is regarded as a ribbon-tied gift to a batsman with a single century to his name in 42 innings.
Averaging 23.42 since the start of last summer, if there is ever a Test in which Strauss needs to take personal advantage, it is this one.
A dead track is of no assistance to a team needing to square the series with one Test remaining, but to Strauss personally it is an opportunity.
Thinking time: The England captain's position in the side could come under threat
'Anyone who is under any illusion that Test match cricket gets any easier as you get older is wrong,' he said before England's final practice session.
'It's always tough. I think when you're young and naive you look for that magic answer if things go wrong, so you'll be changing your technique, trying different things in the nets. 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 technique and just make sure you watch the ball.
If ever a man needed runs it is the England captain
'That's the best recipe for doing well, but it's always a challenge mentally. The trick is to prepare properly and when you get in a position to score a big hundred, make it count.
'That's where I've let myself down over the last year, getting out at 50 or 60 when I could have gone on.
'Being captain can work both ways because overanalysing your game and getting too concerned by technical worries can put you in a bad place mentally.
'As captain, you're obviously busier and have got a lot of other things on your mind. Sometimes that's not a bad thing. Generally I've found being captain has helped me. I hope that will continue to be the case.'
Flat out: Strauss will be keen for England to bounce back after their first-Test defeat
Strauss had some rotten luck in the second innings in Dubai and Cook says he is mystified by his form, having never seen him strike a ball better in the nets.
Strauss accepts the little team talk, but it is plain that a role as the modern Mike Brearley – whose intelligence as captain compensated for some ordinary performances with the bat – does not sit comfortably with him.
'I'm conscious that it is important as a captain to lead from the front by scoring runs,' he added.
'My responsibility is to get the team off to a good start. Having been around the Test match scene for a while, I know form ebbs and flows and one innings can completely change your perspective and the perspective of others about how well you're playing, but I don't think there's room for sentiment in the game.'
Talking with Strauss after the Ashes series, it was clear the pressure on an opening batsman weighed more heavily than he will perhaps acknowledge on the eve of a Test.
'Touring is so much harder than being at home because you don't have that network with you and international sport is very stressful,' he told me. 'If you fail, everyone knows about it .
One of the challenges of making a long career is dealing with tours and finding ways of escaping and coping.
'You never know if you can cope until you go through it. I don't want to paint too bleak a picture, because it can be amazing, but how you cope affects how many runs you score.'
So, well hidden, England's captain is probably going through a tough old time right now. What he needs is a bad night's sleep.