Strauss Resigns From Cricket, Cook Fills His Shoes
England Test captain ANDREW STRAUSS has retired from cricket, with immediate effect, according to Patrick Kidd of the LONDON TIMES. The 35-year-old ended his final press conference "to a spontaneous outburst of applause," saying "much for his accomplishments" in the past three years and for the "genuine affection in which he is held." He has "no immediate plans for the rest of his career, save that he wants to get his golf handicap down." He has been replaced as Test captain by ALASTAIR COOK, the one-day captain and a long-time heir apparent. Strauss denied that the "recent storm over Kevin Pietersen’s turbulent relationship with the dressing-room," which overshadowed the Test series with South Africa, had influenced his decision. Strauss: "I didn’t feel it undermined me in the eyes of the team." He has been discussing the idea with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and with England Dir ANDY FLOWER for several weeks and said that "his own poor form was the driver behind his decision" (LONDON TIMES, 8/29). The London DAILY MAIL noted Cook admitted that "he has a lot to live up to" following Strauss' retirement. Cook took over as one-day captain from Strauss after last year's World Cup and now "faces the task of galvanising both the 50-over and Test teams ahead of an arduous 18 months." Cook said, "Obviously I've got huge boots to fill. Andrew played 100 Test matches, 7,000 runs, and it feels like I've spent all my England career walking out to bat with him" (DAILY MAIL, 8/29). REUTERS' Alison Wildey noted that during Strauss' stint as captain, he led England to Ashes wins in '09 and '10-11 as well as the top of the test rankings following last year's 4-0 series at home to India (REUTERS, 8/29). In a statement released on Wednesday, Strauss thanked everyone who had helped him on an "incredible journey," in particular Flower and DUNCAN FLETCHER. He said he "loved every minute of it." Strauss: "It has clearly been a tough decision to make, but I believe that is both in the best interests of the England cricket team and myself to step down at this stage." ECB CEO DAVID COLLIER said, "On behalf of the ECB and everyone involved in cricket, I'd like to thank Andrew Strauss for his outstanding contribution to the game" (London TELEGRAPH, 8/29).
TEAMMATE TROUBLES: In London, Mike Selvey opined on whether Strauss' departure makes a return for Pietersen, guessing "that it will not." Cook might be keen "on a fresh start, but his team surely would close ranks and Pietersen would become a total outsider" (GUARDIAN, 8/29). Also in London, Dan Hodges wrote Strauss had to manage some of the biggest "personalities" to have inhabited an English dressing room. Over the last few days, "much attention has been paid" to the Pietersen issue. Hodges wrote: "But I still remember seeing Strauss throwing up his arms in frustration in the middle of the final morning of the 2009 Ashes test at Lords, as ANDREW FLINTOFF -- not fully fit, but seeking the elusive fifth Australian wicket that would see his name on the famous Honours Board -- argued against being brought out of the attack." Strauss did well "to manage Flintoff's egotistic desire to make that series his farewell tour, as he has done with other high-maintenance players," such as GRAEME SWANN, who went from being a "managerial nightmare to England's single most-valuable player" (TELEGRAPH, 8/29).