Cricket Expert & Columnist
Up to the Tests
Nasser Hussain says the West Indies and South Africa will bring the best out of Andrew Strauss.
Last Updated: 24/04/12 8:54am
Andrew Strauss is a fantastic leader of men and a great ambassador for England.
Anybody who has already forgotten all the good he has done for our cricket team in conjunction with Andy Flower must have a very short memory indeed.
There's no denying that Strauss needs a score - you can't escape that fact - but it's way too early to get on his case and question if he's the right man to lead England this summer.
We've won back-to-back Ashes and we're still the No 1 Test side in the world. You don't need me to tell you that hasn't always been the case!
After struggling for form throughout the winter, it was Strauss' misfortune to run into Graham Onions in last week's County Championship game.
I don't know any cricketer who would want to face the Durham seamer at Lord's in April so I'm not overly-worried by Strauss' two failures. Of greater concern is the way he has got in, then got out in his preceding international innings.
I thought Strauss played pretty well for his 61 in the first innings of the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo earlier this month but he couldn't go on and we still have to go all the way back to Brisbane in November 2010 to recall the last time he reached three figures.
If he had converted any number of the 20s and 30s - not to mention the 50s - he has subsequently scored into hundreds then the pressure would now be off him to a large extent.
Instead he has become the latest player to fall under the media's scrutiny. He's not the first and he certainly won't be the last - particularly on home turf.
I remember playing in an Essex second XI game somewhere on an out-ground in Colchester in a bid to find some form when I was England captain.
You turn up hoping no-one will be there but inevitably the written press and TV are in attendance and it's tempting to think 'how many second team games do they normally go to?' and get distracted.
There is only one reason they are there and that's to see the England captain get some runs or fail.
It goes with the territory - you know that when you sign up and you've seen it happen when you've played under your predecessors.
Strauss will have an acute idea of what Michael Vaughan went through, just as Vaughan knew the difficulties that I struggled with at different times. It's been the same for all of us, Atherton, Stewart and those that went before. It is simply the cycle continuing...
Thankfully Strauss is a very rounded, grounded individual and will just get on with the job.
Fortunately, this summer poses exactly the sort of challenge he needs at this stage of his career.
The West Indies (Roach, Edwards, Rampaul) and South Africa (Philander, Steyn and Morkel) both have pace attacks capable of asking searching questions.
That means that if Strauss performs, no-one can accuse him of scoring cheap runs off weak bowling. Anyone who produces this summer will have earned their runs.
Strauss much prefers the ball coming onto the bat and plenty of quick stuff is going to come his way in the coming months. He's not a natural player of spin so with any luck the memories of the low, slow tracks of the sub-continent will melt away.
Although it didn't turn out to be the case last week, it should help him that the first Test against the Windies is at Lord's.
Strauss - like England's batting unit as a whole - has scored heavily there in recent years and he can rightly look up to the honours' board with some satisfaction and draw on those positive memories.
Ideally, I'd like him to play on a belter of a pitch before then so he remembers what it feels like to be out in the middle for a long time. Just one county game would be enough if he could put his head down and get a big score.
It won't be easy but it's not supposed to be and Strauss deserves our patience.