Cricket Expert & Columnist
Sporting Chapters: I wasn't going to cower to Australian sledging, says Andrew Strauss
Andrew Strauss tells Sporting Chapters about sledging and Shane Warne's 2005 Ashes banter.
Last Updated: 28/11/13 4:07pm
Former skipper Strauss, who led England to Ashes glory in 2009 and 2010/11, had 14 Tests under his belt when he first took on Australia, in the first Test of the 2005 series.
The then opener made just two in his first innings before becoming one of Glenn McGrath's five victims but went on to score 393 runs in the series, including a century in the fifth and final Test which England drew to secure a 2-1 series victory to win the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.
Looking back on the first Test, Strauss revealed that team-mate Kevin Pietersen warned him to expect an earful from the Australians in the second innings.
"In some ways it was good that I was prepared for it," reflected the Sky Sports commentator.
"The background to the story is that I'd given one of their players a little bit of stick when he got out and one thing that Australian side did really well is they all came together as a unit to make sure that no-one got above their station in the opposition team.
"So they all went at me in that next innings and it was a kind of battle of wills, almost. They hadn't played against me before and they were trying to find if I was going to break under that sort of strain.
"But because I was prepared for it and I was expecting it, that sort of stuff makes you grit your teeth a little bit and go 'I'm not getting out now; this is not a situation where you are going to get one over me'.
"I think I only got 40-odd in that innings but I proved a point to them that I wasn't going to cower away in those circumstances, which is quite important in international sport.
"Everybody is probing for weaknesses and if there are any weaknesses there in international cricket, it will be found at some point."
Strauss confirmed that one player who got into his psyche perhaps more than anyone else was legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, who attempted to undermine Strauss' confidence by comparing his batting to that of South African Daryll Cullinan.
"Warne was just very clever," said Strauss, who played a fifth of his 100 Tests against Australia, scoring 1,421 runs at an average just below his career mark of 40.91.
"It's no surprise to me that he's gone on to play poker once he finished playing cricket because he had that sort of mind - it was a battle between you and him and he was trying to out-think you a lot of the time.
"As soon as I started facing him he started calling me Daryll, after Daryll Cullinan, a guy who never got more than 10 runs against him.
"He was trying to make the point that I was going to be his bunny throughout the series.
"Allied to his great mental attributes he was just a phenomenal bowler so you had that twin challenge of dealing with the man and dealing with this incredible bowler at the same time and it took me a while to overcome that and he got me out a few times.
"Thankfully I did get a few runs against him as well and those are the runs I always remember most fondly. To be able to bat against probably the best spin bowler that ever existed and get some runs is quite a nice feather to have in your cap."
Click on the video above to hear the full story and watch Strauss discuss:
The 2005 Ashes: his feelings as the series culminated in a high-octane finish at the Oval, and the pressure that brought with it
Captaincy: what he learnt from leading his county Middlesex and how crucial that was in preparing him to skipper England
Andrew Flintoff: how and why he battled with the all-rounder for the captaincy and the differences between them, on and off the pitch
Kevin Pietersen: his reflections on how KP and "text-gate" undermined the team environment he and Andy Flower were striving to build
Andrew Strauss' new book 'Driving Ambition' is published by Hodder & Stoughton and is available now.