From Tavare to Tavares: The Rebirth of Andrew 'Andy' Strauss

RangersMedia .co.ukCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2009

There you go.

We were all wrong, in the end.

The ECB, plainly, knew exactly what it was doing all along. Give Kevin Pietersen just enough rope to hang himself as captain, watch as he drags down a poorly performing coach (handily removing the need for a pay-off), get the dirty linen washed, and start afresh.

And the new captain? Not, as we might have thought, the best of a bad lot, an 'Anyone But Freddie' candidate; but a player stuck in a rut who, it is now obvious, merely needed the responsibility of the second toughest job in English sport to get him going.

Going into the West Indies series, there can't have been many cricket followers who viewed the English opening pair with unbridled optimism. Cook, accomplished but still learning, is a stick on barring accidents for a good few years. Strauss...ah, there's a thing. A good player. A team player.

Technically gifted, you know, but still...seemingly bent on introducing the concept of minimalism into cricket, Strauss was gradually removing shots from his locker, test by test, until surely all that was left would be the backward defensive.

Should he ever find himself playing 20/20, one imagines the Middlesex man morosely plodding to the crease to the strains of Phillip Glass.

But lo! Something has occurred, and most welcome it is. Instead of using the Caribbean series to perfect his Chris Tavare impersonation, Strauss has instead taken the words of Tavares to heart: it only takes a minute.

The sight of him blazing away at the Windies bowling on the opening day of the Fourth Test will live long in my memory.

The captain of England, on the first day of a Test match, advancing down the pitch to loft the bowler for six...I should think if you asked most people for candidates, Strauss would have been last on the list. But this!

This brings back memories of Marcus Trescothick thrashing the Aussies around the grounds on so many occasions four years ago, an image that has been playing on my mind as they get ready to return.

What chance another 400 runs in a day? Who will dominate and set the tone? Until today, no name loomed on my horizon.

Is it too much to hope that Strauss (perhaps, now he's playing attacking cricket, we may start to call him Andy?) will adopt the mantle of Tres? if he can, and it is a big ask coupled with the captaincy, that would be one of the big 'worry areas' of the Ashes resolved.

That just leaves minor quibbles like Harmison being patently yesterday's man, whether Swann should replace Monty, and whether Read is the man for the gloves. Maybe some of these issues will be sorted, maybe none will.

But the advent of the new, improved Andy Strauss at least gives us hope that it can happen. The question now is: will it?

To paraphrase Loyd Grossman: Players, it's over to you.