Latest News | Strauss the Greatest England Captain of recent times?
By Adam Hollioake
Adam Hollioake 's grand entrance this afternoon and promise of psychological analysis into such complex subjects as grief/stress/depression.
I am going to start with, you guessed it a cricket blog! Ahhhh, What else can Adam Hollioake write about? ? ? ? I wanted to do something different but under the circumstances I decided that it would be sacrilidge to not talk about The Ashes after England's victory over Australia. I then tried to work out what insight I may be able to provide that the journalists hadn't already covered.
Ok so Adam Hollioake decided on writing on Straussy?
Straussy is incredibly well rounded, has a calm demeanor and is likeable, all vital requirements for a great captain. It is quite unusual to find that the coach has a similar nature, and if you were being critical you may question where that stealy and obviously tough warrior spirit would be injected from.
Adam Hollioake believes toughness doesn't neccessarily have to come in the form of physical toughness. Here we have 2 of the mentally toughest individuals to have played the game. Neither seeks that title and is something that is part of their makeup rather than a title they are trying to achieve. I first realised Straussy's stealy resolve when captaining a game against each other in the Surrey vs Middx match in 2003. It was the 1st time we had captained against each other, in an interview with the media he critisized a captaincy decision that he believed I had gotten wrong (for the record, I agree with him, although probably wouldn't have admitted it at the time). My 1st reaction was to think, who is this young punk to question me on the art of captaincy! I am the longest serving present captain in county cricket and regularly defeat and bully Middlesex with my wonderful team, who are you with your pitiful team to make such a comment. Well, his pitiful team manged to turn around an impossible position and win the game against us. Big deal you may think, well not how I see it! If you are at school and you are being bullied, what needs to happen? well you need to stand up for yourself and punch the bully in the face!
I captained against hundreds of captains in my time that allowed me to disrespect their team and in fact sang our praises (which is fine after the event). There were very few who were prepared to stand up. A team will follow their leader and will take on the personality of their captain. Straussy is not a vociferous leader, but that day he walked quietly up to me and punched Adam Hollioake straight in the mouth (metaphorically speaking of course.)
I always had respect for him as a player and wasn't surprised to see him take to test cricket so easily. One innings that has gone largely unoticed for its brilliance and to Adam Hollioake was the most important innings of the recent Ashes (sorry Cooky, you played best over the series) but Straussy's 2nd innings at Brisbane will go down for me as one of the toughest I have seen. Having played as a captain and a player, the pressure on you as captain is imeasureably greater. After the 1st innings at the GABBA where he walked off before I had a chance to take my seat, their must have been nagging doubts in his head, voices, media in his ear any number of potentially derailing thoughts. This is where a true captain stands up (for the crew always looks to their skipper to lead them out of troubled waters). In his quiet moments in his hotel room, away from team duties, he would have been having a seperate fight none of us where aware of, against an enemy far greater than the greatest Aussie bowling attack ever assembled. That man in your head is a great warrior and needs to be harnessed and controlled. We have all laid on our beds and allowed negative thoughts to enter our minds. We all have these little battles, but in a captains case he has to help his teammates fight their own battles To come out and play that 2nd innings, showed that man in his head who was in charge, and in turn showed his crew that he would lead them out of troubled waters and punched those Aussie bully's in the mouth (he likes doing that!). A captain rarely has anyone to turn to, and I certainly never allowed my crew to know I was fighting in my hotel room every night.
That said and having been there I was in awe of that innings, it stunk of toughness, he sidled up to the bully and poked his chest in his and said I ain't going anywhere for this next 5 tests, it's just you and me here. My crew if you wanna follow me, follow me, if you don't wanna just stand back and watch me go to work!
I am massively impressed with this aspect of his game, but probably more than this is the fact he really doesnt have any weaknesses as a captain. I have seen captains who have been tactically better (Strauss is excellent though), I have seen captains that are more obvious in their competitiveness (none are more competitive though), I have seen captains that were more popular (Strauss is a very popular man and loved by his team). My point is although he doesnt neccesarily come top in every category his weakest attribute is still very good!
I as a captain had good traits and may have been better than Strauss in certain areas, however I was not as well rounded as him, my weaknesses were weaker than his. Let's take Nasser Hussain for example, no doubt a very good captain and has single handidly given the
England captain back his individuality, he had massive strengths but he also had some weaknesses. His strengths were his massive passion, his weakness was his massive passion (much the same as myself). He had that crazy mixed race passion that people love or hate, I was blessed or cursed to be born with the same trait and depending on who you were, you loved or hated it.
Straussy doesnt have this over the top passion and is fortunate to be very calm and level, and with his follow my example attitude will always have the respect of his team. I would like to encourage the media to embrace him as a great captain of our time. I do notice that in the media that the aspect of captaincy that is most analysed is the tactical decisions. This is understandable as it is the only thing we can quantify
Adam Hollioake Ex England Cricketer raises the trophy for Surrey County Cricket Club