| Great expectations: Andrew Strauss with Alastair Cook (left) and Stuart Broad (right) in the Long Room at Lord’s in May last year
Skipper Strauss falls on sword shock
Ok, no conferring, no phoning a friend, but your Oxbridge scholarship essay this morning is:
Should Andrew Strauss have resigned as England captain after losing only 2-0 to South Africa when M.S. Dhoni didn’t despite being trashed 8-0 by England and by Australia last year?
Just as a guide, the answer is that 8-0 is not all that serious for an Indian captain because he can always make up in cricket that really matters — Indian Premier League — and do some fashion shoots along the way. Anyone who tries to be too clever and suggests otherwise automatically fails.
Strauss — or “Straussy” as his teammates affectionately call him — made the shock announcement that he was quitting all forms of cricket, with his successor as Test captain, Alastair Cook, sitting next to him.
My guess is that India was a reason for his resignation.
Normally, India can revive any cricketer in poor form. However, Strauss was not confident England would perform well under his captaincy in India this winter. And he knew that the speculation which had already started in the British media about whether he really deserved his place in the side would become even more intense if he failed to get runs in India.
“I think for a captain to perform in his role properly it’s important, firstly, that you’re not a passenger in the side but also that people aren’t speculating as to whether you should be in the side or not,” he remarked in a pointed reference to the British media.
Did his differences with Kevin Pietersen tip him over the edge? He insists it was not a factor but it cannot have helped.
Strauss, who is 35, scored 7,037 runs and 21 centuries in his 100 Tests as well as 4,205 runs in 127 one-day Internationals. As captain he led the side to success 24 times in 50 Tests.
“I wasn’t going to improve batting-wise,” he said. “I’d run my race.”
It is sad that in his 100th and final Test, he scored 20 and 1. He is a decent and an honest man who represented all that is best about cricket. This is a cliché but nothing became him so well as the manner of his going. I would love to see him get a job with Kolkata Knight Riders.
| Play time: Adil Ray (sitting, centre) with Shobu Kapoor to his left and others english heritage: Apsley House (left centre)india talk: Sunil Khilnani
British Muslims are said to have been “offended” by a new six-part comedy series, Citizen Khan, which attracted a healthy audience of 3.6 million when it made its debut on BBC television last Monday.
It pokes fun at “Mr Khan”, a self-styled “community leader” and would-be president of the “Sparkhill Pakistani Business Association” in Birmingham.
Mr Khan is played by Adil Ray, who created the series and is one of its writers. Mr Khan’s family includes his wife, Mrs Khan (Shobu Kapoor), and their two daughters, Shazia (Maya Sondhi), and Alia (Bhavna Limbachia), a teenager who pulls on her hijab and pretends to read the Koran in order to convince her father she is a “good girl” — one such scene is said to have given Muslims particular offence.
Other regulars include Shazia’s not very bright fiancé, Amjad Malik (Abdullah Afzal); a white convert, Dave (Kris Marshall), newly appointed manager of the local mosque; and a Somali, Omar (Felix Dexter).
The industry’s regulator, Ofcom, is apparently considering launching an investigation into whether the programme stereotypes Muslims and insults Islam.
“Did anyone watch News at 10 last night — seven times they mentioned Pakistan, twice in a good way!” Mr Khan enthuses in one of his better jokes.
Mr Khan buys toilet rolls in bulk but shows his family just how little they need to use. He also repeatedly clears his throat of phlegm, with canned laughter to indicate this is meant to be funny.
The Daily Mail got Saira Khan, who once appeared in the reality show The Apprentice to argue in an article: “Crucially, if we British Muslims can’t laugh at ourselves... there’s a real danger that our community will end up ostracised and isolated.”
Mark Lawson, the English presenter of Front Row, an arts programme on BBC Radio 4, defended the BBC: “My own cultural outsider’s view is that Citizen Khan pays British Muslims perhaps the highest compliment television can bestow, which is treating them like any other creed and people.”
Mr Khan could just as easily be an “Indian community leader”. His humour, though, is definitely a work in progress.
Apsley House (left centre)
Many British artists have painted India over the centuries but there have been very few return matches.
So I am glad that Calcutta artist Swaroop Mukerji, whom I last met sketching India House in the Aldwych 15 years ago, is back in London to try and redress the artistic balance a little.
“I will be here until September 20 working on some heritage sites under the aegis of English Heritage,” says Swaroop.
After attending a niece’s wedding this weekend, he begins painting tomorrow.
Swaroop has been given several well-known sites by English Heritage that includes Chiswick Hall, Wellington Arch, Eltham Palace and Apsley House.
He will be a busy boy: “I will be doing water colours, pen and ink, charcoal and mixed media.”
I have found him neither “aloof” nor “pompous”, descriptions now being used to undermine him, but, on the contrary, intellectually heavyweight, thoughtful and with a world view of Christianity.
“Christians cannot demand for themselves freedoms in other parts of the world if other people do not have freedoms here (in Britain). So just as I struggled in Pakistan, so I struggle for minorities in this country,” he told me.
Some people may not like it but Nazir-Ali would be a good man to speak out, not only against persecution of Christians in Pakistan, which forced him to seek shelter in Britain in the first place, but also persecution of Christians in India.
What with British universities sending delegations to India, it is going to be hard to get on to a flight in the next few days.
A Cambridge delegation, visiting Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, from September 8 to 17, will be led by the university’s vice-chancellor, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz.
Incidentally, if someone is looking for an agreeable job in Cambridge, one is about to be advertised.
I am advised that “all in all Cambridge is upping the ante in its engagement with India like never before, and there are plans to appoint a dedicated India officer to work in the International Strategy Office”.
|India talk: Sunil Khilnani
The Cambridge party will probably come across a big delegation from King’s College London that includes professor Sunil Khilnani, director of its India Institute which was founded eight months ago, and his whole team.
“Making Sense of Contemporary India” is the challenging subject of an all day seminar that the institute is holding in Teen Murti Bhavan in Delhi on September 12.
“We certainly don’t claim to offer definitive answers on how ‘to make sense of contemporary India’ but we hope, through our close and constant dialogue with our counterparts in India, to arrive at better questions to ask about India,” Sunil tells me.
On the previous day, principal Sir Rick Trainor, vice-principal Keith Hoggart and Sunil will brief the press on the “study India programme, research collaborations, exchange of staff and students and research into contemporary India” at King’s College London.
Talking of universities I have news of the Indian father whose son was accepted as a foreign student at Cambridge. The boy has had to turn down the place because his father could not find the £30,000-a-year costs for three years. Instead, he has taken up an offer from King’s College London where the fees will be £14,000 a year.
I am sure he will be happy but the long-term solution is obviously to find more money for scholarships.