Andrew Strauss retired from all forms of cricket yesterday. It is a sad moment for England who lose one of our most gifted and successful captains of all time, but also for cricket in general as it loses one of the true gentlemen of the game. Strauss was one of the few left of whom it could always be said that he played in the proper spirit and was an ideal role model. I don’t know that there is anyone right now who can fill that role. It was also, I suspect, a very sad moment for Strauss himself. Certainly it was not an ideal ending to his career. Strauss took England from the shambles of the divided dressing room and the 51 all out humiliation to an Ashes triumph within a year and then to seven consecutive home series victories, an Ashes win down under for the first time in 24 years and the top of the ICC Test rankings. All throughout that time he put the team before himself, leading with a quiet authority and stoicism. He played for 100 Tests, captained for fifty and with the bat he fell one short of the England record for most Test centuries. ‘Great’ is by no means too high praise for him. Both as a captain and a person he deserved so much better than to go out in the situation he did.
I wish that he had stayed on longer. I wrote why he should for the Armchair Selector just recently and I don’t think any of that has changed. I have trouble finding fault with the notion that England are a worse side without him than with him. But he clearly disagreed and I think it’s fair to say that he probably knows the situation better than I do. He spent his entire career doing what was right for the team and doing an admirable job of it. It saddens me greatly in this case, but there can be no doubt that he has done enough to earn faith in his decision making.