Andrew Strauss talks about his new Sky Sports role, winning the Ashes and working with Beefy!
Last Updated: 04/07/13 10:51pm
This summer the 36-year-old - who twice lifted the urn as England skipper - faces a new challenge as the latest addition to Sky Cricket's illustrious commentary team.
But how does the sixth former England captain to join the ranks plan to make his mark and what does he really think of his new colleagues?
A week ahead of the first Test between England and Australia, skysports.com decided to find out...
Alright Straussy! Does it feel odd to be preparing for the Ashes as a commentator?
Straussy: Clearly it is very different. As a player you are incredibly focused on the extent of the challenge that is coming up because usually you only get one chance every two years to make your mark on the history and tradition of the Ashes. This time the butterflies are different because of the nature of the challenge is new to me. I will be nervous on day one but overall I'm just so excited to be involved in the series and have the chance to see it first hand; hopefully I'll be able to play my part in bringing the series to life and give an insight into what the players are going through.
So, what do you think makes a good cricket pundit?
Straussy: Someone who is balanced in their opinion and who understands the intricacies of the job as well as the challenges involved. They should also appreciate great cricket and shouldn't be afraid to voice their opinions. Sky are blessed with their pundits - we've got some really fantastic people on board who have experienced the Ashes first hand and who are now very adept at articulating the various challenges that cricketers have to go through. The challenge for me is to offer a different perspective. Let's be honest - they are all a bit long in the tooth now and haven't played for England for a while so hopefully I can give a fresher take on proceedings!
You must be close to the England players after achieving so much as captain. Will it be hard to criticise them if they do under-perform?
Straussy: You've got to call things how you see them. I've got no problems with telling it how it is because ultimately you move on from the dressing room and my job at Sky is to call things accurately. At times I will have to criticise the team, which is fine as far as I'm concerned. The players will know when they've played a poor shot or had a bad session and, if that's the case, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying they've underperformed. But it's important to be constructive and you must give the opposition credit when they have performed well. Sometimes you can only perform as well as the opposition allows you to.
Let's cut to the chase - what do you think of your new team-mates?
Straussy: Most of it is unprintable! I've played a bit of golf with Beefy and seen him quite a lot at the Dunhill Links Championship. He's a competitive golfer and the one time that we played in partnership we lost. I don't think he spoke to me for the rest of the evening after that! If it's anything to go by, the commentary box could get a bit frosty if we disagree on air too often!
Then there's Warnie, who was the best bowler I've ever faced by a country mile. He had this incredible genius with the ball and an aura about his persona that was very intimidating. In my first series against Australia in 2005 he kept calling me 'Daryll' after Daryll Cullinan, who struggled to get any runs against him. That was a tag I wasn't particularly pleased to have. Warnie focused a lot of his attention on me for a while in 2005 until I got a hundred at Old Trafford at which point he decided to focus on someone else, which was quite a relief for me to be honest because he was a great competitor. One of the great challenges in Test cricket was coming up with a method of how to score off Warnie; if you did that, you were pretty clear in your mind that you could perform against most people.
And what about Athers and Nass? They must have asked you some searching questions over the years!
Straussy: Obviously I've had my 'run ins' (or rather that run out on my Test debut) with Nass but by and large they've both been pretty good to me over the years! We were fortunate as a team in the sense that we had quite a long, sustained period of success. But judging by the little amount of time that I've spent in the commentary box so far, they seem quite keen and determined to put me in my place and make sure that I realise that I'm the new kid on the block. That said, the fact that they didn't win an Ashes series is always in my favour and I can always throw that back at them at any time when I feel they might be getting a little bit too big for their boots.
It sounds like stepping back into the dressing room for the first time all over again...
Andrew: I think it is like that in some respects. When I first came into the England dressing room Nasser was there and very much part of the furniture; in his typical Essex way he gave a bit of stick out. But the great thing about Nasser is that he can take a bit as well. So when people start criticising him about his grumpiness or his inability to buy a beer, he takes it on the chin.
Coming up on skysports.com - Andrew Strauss talks us through the defining moments of the 2009 and 2010/11 Ashes, gives us his verdict on Alastair Cook's captaincy and tells us where he thinks this summer's Ashes will be won and lost.
Sky Sports Ashes HD will show exclusively live ball-by-ball coverage of the Investec Ashes this summer. Find out more about our coverage and how you can tune in here.
Cricket coverage on Sky Sports is available on TV, PC and on the move via mobile and tablet devices, thanks to Sky Go.
Sky Sports will also launch an enhanced Ashes experience within the Sky Sports for iPad and via the Ashes Event Centre on skysports.com, providing users with even more viewing options, data and insight throughout the series.
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