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Justin Langer column

Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Former Australia batsman and Somerset captain

England skipper Andrew Strauss
When a player knows his captain will support him in the tough times, you can be sure they will be happy to follow him into the trenches when he needs them the most

If Michael Vaughan and his band of Ashes heroes were awarded MBEs after the 2005 series then Andrew Strauss should be knighted after Sunday's monumental victory at The Oval.

He has been outstanding and it is no wonder he was chosen as the winner of the Compton-Miller medal as the Player of the Series.

At the start of the summer it was my opinion that the performance of the captains would be crucial to the outcome of the series.

A confident and buoyant leader is usually the driving force behind a team's success or failure, and in this instance, while Ricky Ponting was excellent, Andrew Strauss was Herculean in every sense of the word.

While Strauss's tally of runs is worth applauding, it was the manner in which he went about his business which was even more significant. He had a glint in his eye which indicated a steely resolve and focus which I am certain reflected his determination, not only to make up for the humiliation of the 2007 drubbing in Australia, but also to stamp his mark on the captaincy of his country.

And while he could not have asked for a better start with this victory, his reputation is developing rapidly in more ways than one. Tactically he will keep getting better, but his intuition under pressure is an asset which will be like gold to him as a leader.

After the fourth Test loss at Headingley, he stood tall and urged people not to panic. A lesser character would have settled for wholesale changes and band aid strategies but he encouraged the selectors to stick with their consistent selection plan and back the men who had played so well in the previous three Test matches.

While he isn't afraid to make the tough call as he did with Ravi Bopara and Graham Onions, he will earn invaluable respect from his players if he keeps backing them in public and behind doors with the selectors.

When a player knows his captain will support him in the tough times, you can be sure they will be happy to follow him into the trenches when he needs them the most.

Gaining your players' respect is the most important part of leadership and by batting like he is and supporting his men like he does, it is no surprise his team rose up so triumphantly here at The Oval.

From the outside he also seems to have formed a strong alliance with the coach, Andy Flower, and as in all great organisations, a tight leadership group usually means a happy and eager flock.

In this captain/coach combination England have a wonderful opportunity to go from strength to strength in the international game.

If they can just eliminate those 'really bad' days which Strauss alluded to at the end of the game, then there is no reason why they can't become a consistent force on the world stage.

Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke
Australia should take the lead from Strauss and remember now is no time to panic

Obviously Andrew Flintoff will be missed as he is a genuine superstar of the game but the emergence and development of Stuart Broad over the last couple of years is enough to bring a smile to the face of all English supporters. He has been fantastic in the latter half of this series and is sure to become a major star over the next decade.

Jonathan Trott's debut was classy and courageous and is a fantastic example of how the First Division of county cricket is reducing the gap between the domestic game and Test cricket in this country.

For the past few weeks I have came under some fire for my so called 'leaked dossier', particularly about my observations about Prior and Swann.

What I will say now is that I have been hugely impressed with Matt Prior's improvement and having seen first hand how hard he has been working on his game he deserves high praise for his part in the success of this series.

Equally, Graeme Swann is the type of player who rubs you up the wrong way as an opponent, but I am sure is one who you would love to have in your team.

There are plenty of those players in the world and it has been his energy and enthusiasm which has helped him make strong contributions, especially in the two winning Tests of the summer.

All up, the series has been a close one, there is no doubting that. Australia will be shattered not only by losing the Ashes but also by dropping down the Test rankings ladder.

Ricky Ponting is strong and very proud and while his beer wouldn't have tasted all that sweet after the game, he knows he also has enough good players to mould into a very good team.

Young teams take time to develop and Australia should take the lead from Strauss and remember now is no time to panic.

From Taunton,

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see also
Media reaction to Ashes victory
24 Aug 09 |  England
Victorious England regain Ashes
23 Aug 09 |  England
Strauss savours famous Ashes win
23 Aug 09 |  England
Ponting determined to bounce back
23 Aug 09 |  Australia
England v Australia photos
23 Aug 09 |  England
Justin Langer on the Ashes
19 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
05 Aug 09 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
29 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Justin Langer column
13 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England

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