I must say that there’s never a dull moment as captain. I’ll start the day off having a word with the bowlers, giving poor Ryan his bath, helping him into a chair, that sort of thing. Building up Harmison’s confidence is also key: I’ll usually pop into his room and hide his electric razor first thing. I think a bit of threatening stubble could help him feel a bit more dangerous.
It’s hard to tell what sort of mood he’s going to be in on any given day. He was very down this morning because Flintoff had to go off for a scan or a meeting with his accountant or something and Harmison wouldn’t see him until the afternoon. He just sat listening to Catherine Cookson audiobooks on his iPod during breakfast, pushing his jam sandwich around the plate, in a world of his own. Still, we all know what he can do with the ball when it all clicks into place. At least as far as I can remember. But he brings a lot to the team: he’s a popular figure, he’s got all three of the Bourne films on DVD, he knows some footballers. These sort of things are important to the fellows.
Everyone has been terribly supportive since I took over, particularly Andy Flower. I sounded him out about the top coaching job and he said: “Please don’t make me do it I beg you.” Marvellous sense of humour, and if we can get him a passport, he could very much be the answer to our middle-order difficulties. As could Reg the security chap.
One chap I can definitely rely on is young Alastair Cook, although I do worry that he might be taking his unofficial vice captaincy role too seriously. He’d drawn up a rota for washing-up and stuck it at the back of the dressing room near the kettle, and he’s taken to labelling things “ALASTAIR’S MILK DO NOT TOUCH” and leaving post-it notes around the place telling the other fellows to tidy up their kit.
Still, he’s been very helpful getting the team ready for this Test. If we can all get through it without someone breaking their leg or having a baby or forgetting how to play cricket there’s every reason to think that we can get a result.
Andrew Strauss wasn’t talking to that loveable rogue Alan Tyers