Former England captain Michael Vaughan believes Andrew Strauss’ sabbatical from the game can help him recover his form and prolong his Test career.
Speaking exclusively to Lords.org Vaughan admitted Strauss’ position in the side might have been under pressure had England’s form not been so dominant.
But after leading England to the number one spot in the Test arena, Strauss’ standing has arguably never been higher with a BBC Sports Personality of the Year nomination the latest in a growing list of accolades.
“He knows he’s got to score runs because there are so many good players now who would feel they should be playing Test match cricket,” said Vaughan.
“But he’s the captain, he’s the leader, he’s very good in that position and he has a great partnership with Andy Flower.”
Vaughan is England’s most successful captain with 26 victories in his 51 match reign.
Injuries caused havoc with the latter part of his career though, and Strauss – with 21 wins – can dream of overtaking his record in the coming year with series’ against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa on the horizon.
Vaughan’s form also dropped as the injuries took their toll, with his average as captain slipping below 40 by the end of his career.
Strauss has had a lean 2011, averaging just 28.72 in his eight Test appearances – a fact Vaughan admits will be playing on his successor’s mind.
“England are winning and Strauss will be happy about that but he will be thinking about the fact he hasn’t had a century in a while,” added the 37-year-old.
“If England were losing it would probably be a different situation he finds himself in but I don’t really worry about his form – he’s playing well.
“His game doesn’t appear to have any weaknesses in it and I just feel… that it won’t be long before we see him celebrating a century.”
Rest and recouperation
Strauss retired from ODI cricket following the 2011 ICC World Cup to concentrate on extending his Test career.
The biggest immediate benefit of this decision has been a lengthy sabbatical from the game, extending from the end of the domestic season through to England’s tour of the UAE to play Pakistan in early 2012.
Vaughan, who played 34 of his 82 Tests as a teammate of Strauss before his last match in 2008, was evidently jealous of the current captain’s rare and lengthy holiday.
He said: “It can only do him good! He’s had three months off and I’ve never heard of an England captain with that long a break.
“The England management look after Strauss’ time very well. Some people say they should take him on every tour and play him in every game but if that happens then he’ll be drained and he’ll end up like me and Nasser Hussain did.
“They’re managing his time well and I think he’s probably got the 2013 Ashes in his head as a target to aim for.”
In the more immediate future though is a meeting with a resurgent Pakistan in the UAE, and Vaughan feels they will face a stern challenge: “Pakistan played nicely against Sri Lanka to win 1-0 in the UAE and they know the conditions.
“I’m not too sure how good the preparation games will be during that tour for England because I’m not too sure about the quality of the opposition.
“So Pakistan has an opportunity in that first Test to make the most of it.”
Vaughan v Strauss - as captain