Strauss quits: is Pietersen or Louise Mensch to blame?
KP could be even more isolated now Strauss has gone, amid rumours of a career in politics
ENGLAND cricket captain Andrew Strauss has quit his job and retired from all forms of the game. His decision comes after a terrible two weeks that saw his side lose its number one world ranking after defeat to South Africa and the exposure by the Kevin Pietersen affair of simmering tensions within the dressing room.
It is the third time in as many tours that Proteas captain Graeme Smith has seen his England counterpart lose his job, but neither he nor Pietersen can claim Strauss's scalp.
"It will look like he's been done in by Kevin Pietersen or Graeme Smith," said The Daily Telegraph. "But Andrew Strauss is a pragmatist and the pragmatist would say it won't get any better than it has been these past 18 months which means it is time to go."
Strauss, who won back-to-back Ashes and took England to the top of the tree, will be fondly remembered. "Few England captains in any sport leave to the sound of clapping rather than sharpening knives," noted The Times. "That Andrew Strauss ended his final press conference as England Test captain... to a spontaneous outburst of applause says much for his accomplishments in the past three years and for the genuine affection in which he is held."
The Guardian's Mike Selvey claimed Strauss's decision was down to his form, observing: "He has been to the brink before but that was strictly to do with his batting."
However, he acknowledged it was impossible to ignore the question on everyone's lips. "We have to wonder at the full extent of the effect on his mind and the team dynamic that the recent events involving Pietersen have had," he said, but concluded the row over insulting text messages was no more than a contributing factor.
Yet the Pietersen affair leaves a nasty taste in the mouth, says Cricinfo. "[Pietersen] has certainly sullied the manner of his captain's departure and one hopes he feels a little guilty about that, but Strauss is not the sort to retreat from tough situations. It should not be allowed to mask a far greater truth: this was the right time to go."
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew says Strauss had been contemplating his future for some time. "It was pretty clear Andrew knew his time was up some time ago," he said. He admitted, though, that the Pietersen affair may have "hastened" the captain's departure.
He also hints that it left Pietersen even more isolated than before. "There will be some resentment [among the other players]," he says. "They will feel that Strauss has gone before his time."
Selvey appears to agree. "Whether Strauss's departure makes a return for Pietersen more likely is hard to gauge," he says. "But a guess would be that it will not. The new captain, Alastair Cook, might be keen on a fresh start but his team surely would close ranks and Pietersen would become a total outsider."
And after all the dressing room politics involving Pietersen could it be Strauss has timed his retirement in order to become an MP? Blogger Guido Fawkes gave credence to some irreverent speculation on Twitter by suggesting that Strauss, who is said to be a Tory, could be preparing to stand for the Conservatives in the Corby by-election, caused by the resignation of Louise Mensch.