Ashes Comment: Targeting The Opposing Captain

Ashes Comment: Targeting The Opposing Captain
Ashes Comment: Targeting The Opposing Captain
©Action Images / Jason O'Brien Livepic

Amit Masram looks back at England captain Andrew Strauss's century in Brisbane, comparing it to a similar effort by then Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly in 2003.

The Gabba is often the most difficult obstacle to cross for a visiting team playing a Test series in Australia and England know its significance more than any other team. How many times have we seen a skipper leading from the front to revive the sagging fortunes of his side in Australia?

The batting display by England skipper Andrew Strauss is akin to former Indian captain Saurav Ganguly taking on the challenge at Brisbane in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, 2003-04.

In response to Australia’s 323 runs in the first innings, Saurav Ganguly arrived at the crease with India delicately placed at 62/3. Ganguly began by cutting the seamers over the slip cordon and driving on the rise through the offside, through the covers. All the speculations of the chin music discomforting Saurav Ganguly vanished soon.

Ganguly and Laxman  were in scintillating  form and exposed the hosts’ bowling which was without its premier strike bowlers Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Shane Warne.Ganguly regained his languid elegance with an imperious 144 runs combining his  experience and skills to stitch vital partnerships with opener Akash Chopra and seasoned VVS Laxman to take India to safety.

More importantly, the hundred from Ganguly’s willow instilled the belief in the Indian team that they could beat Australia. Though the Test ended in a draw, India carried the momentum into the second Test at Sydney and outclassed Australia by 208 runs to land Australia in an unfamiliar territory of trailing the series 1-0.

Fast forward to the Ashes 2010 and England skipper Andrew Strauss produced a replica to Ganguly’s effort to keep England’s prospects of regaining the Ashes alive with a strokeful 110 runs on the fourth day at Brisbane.

Coming into the Ashes opener with attacking hundreds against South Australia and West Australia at Adelaide and Perth respectively Andrew Strauss lasted for a three-ball blob on the opening day of the much-awaited Ashes series - not the best way to translate the rich form.

Against the backdrop of a deficit of 221 runs in the second innings, Strauss, on a pair, first took the measure of the pitch to get his eye in and then launched an array of elegant drives and crisp cuts at with great aplomb off either foot. He shared a solid opening stand of 188 runs with Alastair Cook to craft what may prove to be one of the most important hundreds for England.

This not only restored the morale of the England side after Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin added 307 runs for the sixth wicket to deflate England but also sent a strong statement to the Australians who have made an art of mentally disintegrating the visiting captain.

Advantage England!

Amit Masram

© Cricket World 2010