England Cricket Players
Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2005
On May 21, 2004, playing against New Zealand, Andrew Strauss wrote his name into the record-books when he became only the fourth batsman to score a century at Lord's on his Test debut. It was the culmination of a rapid rise to prominence for Strauss, who as captain of Middlesex, was at least on familiar territory for the big occasion. As a fluid and attractive left-hand opener, Strauss knew all about pressure and how to handle it. His stock rose exponentially in 2002 and 2003, following the unforeseen retirement of Middlesex's captain, Angus Fraser, who swapped his sweater for a laptop and took up the role of cricket correspondent for the Independent newspaper. Strauss filled the breach admirably, and 1400 runs in his first full season in charge in 2003 proved that he was not a man to be fazed by responsibility. He was born in Johannesburg in March 1977, but is a very English product, having learned his game at Radley College and Durham University. At the crease, there is something of the Graham Thorpe about Strauss's ability to accumulate runs without recourse to big shots, and it was this trait that earned him a place in England's one-day squad for the winter tours in 2003-04. After cementing his place with a pair of attractive sixties against West Indies, he confirmed his star quality - and his affinity for Lord's - with a hundred against the same opposition on his first one-day appearance in front of his home crowd. In doing so became only the fifth player to have scored their first Test and one-day international hundreds on the same ground. Strauss went on to have a scintillating summer for England, ratcheting up runs against both New Zealand and West Indies, but that was only his warm-up act. In South Africa that same winter, he won the first Test singlehandedly with scores of 126 and 94 not out at Port Elizabeth, and added two further hundreds in recording a phenomenal tally of 656 runs. It was always going to be hard to cap that sort of a debut year, and yet Strauss managed it, as he overcame his uncertainties against both Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne to record two more centuries in England's historic Ashes victory.