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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 15:04 GMT
Strauss calls the tune
Andrew Strauss, one of England's future batting prospects, tells BBC Sport Online's Oliver Brett about his days playing club cricket with the Lee brothers.

It may not be immediately obvious, but Andrew Strauss is one of the most experienced of all England's academy cricketers - especially when it comes to cricket in Australia.

As one of 16 cricketers being groomed by Rod Marsh to be England's world-beaters of the future, Strauss - the Middlesex batsman - has played three winters of tough grade cricket, and not for just any old club.

"My club, Mosman, is the one Brett and Shane Lee play for," says Strauss.

"The first few games I ever played for them, Brett Lee was bowling. I couldn't believe his pace, but also the whole standard of club cricket there was so high.

"Needless to say, lots of the fast bowlers seem to enjoy hitting the batsmen - but everyone takes it.

Brett Lee
Strauss has played club cricket with Brett Lee

"You get a bit of sledging: There was some: 'Who's this Pom? I can't believe he makes a living out of cricket,' but I was actually expecting them to get stuck in more."

Strauss was born in Johannesburg and is now 24. An attacking left-hander he has already crafted four centuries for his county and his average is gradually pushing towards 40 in first class cricket.

In five seasons at Middlesex, he has only been available for the entire season for the last three - and that's due to academic commitments.

"I was losing ground on my peers at Middlesex," he acknowledges wistfully. "They were playing for six months of the year as opposed to three and they were developing quicker than me."

Strauss left South Africa with his family at the age of six - and interestingly his first memories of playing cricket were Australia-based since his parents were there briefly before moving to England.

Loss of Ramprakash

The last few years at Middlesex have seen a traditionally strong county struggle to impose themselves in the domestic game, and Strauss is all too aware.

"Mark Ramprakash has gone to Surrey and a lot of young players have come in. When you first start playing you are less likely to perform consistently.

"But the youngsters have come forward and done very well and. We did miss out on promotion which we shouldn't have done, but it looks like things are moving in the right direction now.

"There is pressure on us because we are a big club. But personally I've been happy with the last three years. I've gone from averaging 30, to 34 the following season and 45 in the summer just gone.

"There's a good progression there and I think I'm learning all the time. I just hope that progression continues and now we have this opportunity to improve further as an academy.

"Hopefully we will come back next year and score lots of runs and take lots of wickets. It's only right that we should."

See also:

30 Oct 01 |  Cricket
Academy set to 'get tough'
23 Oct 01 |  Cricket
Ambitious despite the injuries
20 Oct 01 |  Cricket
On the march with Marsh's army
15 Oct 01 |  Cricket
Rule of the Rod
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