‘Arise Sir Andrew Strauss’
It is not quite where I thought this story would go when I witnessed a naïve Durham University student enter the Home Dressing Room at Lord’s for the first time in the late 90’s. Ian Gould, Middlesex’s 2nd XI Coach, had said there was a young lad in the ‘two’s’ who had a bit about him but Andrew hid that well as he came bumbling in during a tense part of the 1st XI game that was being played. I believe he was quickly told his dressing room was further down the corridor at the back of the Pavilion.
That Andrew has become one of the most successful and respected cricketers and administrator’s English cricket has produced is something that everybody at Middlesex County Cricket Club is and should be extremely proud of. I don’t know how many former Middlesex cricketers have been knighted but Andrew’s is thoroughly deserved in so many ways.
When Glenn Hoddle suffered a heart attack just under a year ago I sensed, through the way people were talking about the incident, that they did not expect him to pull through. Thankfully he did, and in a subsequent interview Glenn said, having heard the tributes made to him by current friends and former colleagues, that when people were talking about him they did not mention the brilliant goals he had scored or games he had played. They did not praise him for his medals or England caps.
What the people who knew Glenn commented on was the way he went about his business. They talked glowingly about his caring personality and character, about the people he had helped and supported. You were left in no doubt that Glenn is a top man.
And, to me, the same can be said about Andrew Strauss. What he has so far achieved in cricket cannot be ignored because it is considerable. To face up to the finest fast bowlers in the world for almost a decade you have to be a brave, strong and talented so and so. You also have to be courageous, knowing that you will receive a huge amount of social media criticism and trolling, to tell Kevin Pietersen, face to face, that his days as an England cricketer are over. You also have to know what you are doing to grab hold of and guide England’s white ball side from where they were to be World Champions.
But none of these acts can compare to the way in which he has handled the biggest challenge he is ever likely to face – the devastating illness and death of his beautiful wife Ruth. I don’t know how he has dealt with this tragedy as he has. I was at Ruth’s funeral and memorial service and, on each occasion, listening to him speak was one of the most moving things I have witnessed.
Faced with such sadness he has remained dignified, positive, friendly and approachable. Not once have I seen him drifting around feeling sorry for himself. To behave in such a way takes a strength and character very few people possess.
The 2nd day of this summer’s Ashes Test against Australia was an unbelievably special day. It was the day Lord’s turned red in memory of Ruth Strauss. The response, largely due to Andrew’s drive and leadership, was remarkable.
But it was also the day cricket showed what it thought of Andrew Strauss. I whispered this to Andrew as we walked off the ground after the England and Australia players had presented their red caps to Andrew and his sons Sam and Luca. Andrew’s response was ‘I’m not going there yet’.
Andrew’s knighthood is fitting reward for one of the great men of cricket and it will be respected and welcomed by everyone in and outside the game.
By Angus Fraser - Managing Director of Cricket, Middlesex Cricket