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Tribute to Andrew Strauss at SUNNINGDALE Dinner in his honour

Edward Dexter

Tribute to Andrew Strauss.
The first thing you notice about Andrew Strauss is that he has a wonderful smile. You would think that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth - but it obviously does because anyone who can handle such a diverse gang of potential hoodlums as the England cricket squad is clearly made of stern stuff.
I had dealings with him immediately after the first Test he Captained at Lord's when he was said to have refused to lead " three cheers for Her Majesty The Queen". His very position in society was at stake - or at least his possible Membership of Sunningdale ( one and the same thing, one might say) - but it turned out to be a simple misunderstanding - nothing more. I found him accessible and straightforward - as you might reasonably expect of an alumni of the same school as yours truly.
However his qualities were not immediately recognised when, despite his successful Captaincy, winning a series against a formidable Pakistan side - he was dumped in favour of the "peoples" favourite Freddie Flintoff. And of that particular gaffe of monumental proportions, enough said.
During his hugely successful term of Captaincy, I tended to send him an e-mail about once every two years and they were always answered by return. If it was about his batting he would say " I'm working on it". if it was about tactics or strategy on the field he might use that old military terminology - "message received and understood" non committal but polite and friendly always.
For a while I thought his "on the field" handling of bowlers was a little stereotypical. Ray Illingworth was the most astute of England Captains I have seen. But maybe our Raymond was too tough on anyone underperforming and that can lead to resentment. When "Illy" won the Ashes in Australia in 1971, he promised to open a bottle or two of champagne in the team room back at the hotel. Rumour has it that only two of his team bothered to turn up!!
To create a confident and cohesive team atmosphere over a period of weeks and months is no easy task, so Andrew deserves enormous credit for achieving just that.
From all I hear his golf is of good quality and it would be to the Club's advantage to foster his obvious management skills. Captain of Sunningdale would probably stretch his diplomacy way beyond anything he has had to do so far - but someone has to do it and, frankly, who could possibly have better credentials.


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