Saturday, 19 May 2012

The Monkey on His Back

Andrew Strauss brings up his 100
Andrew Strauss told interviewers yesterday following his innings at Lords which left him 121* when bad light stopped play, 'You feel like you want to take the monkey off your back and contribute to the team - that's the most important thing. It was a great feeling.'

Fantasy Bob is sure backs should be monkey-free.  But he notes that there is an interesting discussion as to the origin of the phrase 'having a monkey on your back'. Some sources suggest that it originates in the 1930s and referred to having an addiction, primarily to heroin. The phrase then widened out to having any kind of mental burden or worry or obsession - and at times it has even been used to refer to a mortgage, although this may be a confusion with an early usage in which a monkey on the roof referred to a mortgage. Other sources suggest that it originated earlier as a phrase to describe someone in a bad mood and was later taken up to describe addiction. It is found a lot in management speak these days to refer to a recent failure or unsuccessful project for which some kind of atonement must be made. It is a hurdle to be overcome.

Fantasy Bob says well done to Strauss. The hysteria of the press suggesting that he was in last chance saloon did them no credit. Relatively speaking Strauss had a successful winter proving to be one of England's more resolute batsmen and he obviously commands the respect and loyalty of the rest of the team.  The value of this should not be underestimated.

Strauss' previous Test hundred prior to yesterday was in November 2010 in Brisbane.  Since then he had 24 innings scoring 717 runs at 28.68. But this was not his first lean spell of this nature. His overall record has an uncanny cyclical quality either side of his captaincy. 

Prior to the 2010 Brisbane Test, his previous century was 161 at Lords in July 2009 against Australia. Between the 2 centuries he had 24 innings in which he scored 807 runs at 35.09. Earlier in his career he had a spell of 30 innings between tons:  in August 2006 he scored 116 against Pakistan at Leeds and 19 months later got 177 (his highest Test score) at Hamilton against New Zealand. In that spell he scored 777 runs at 25.90. (See warning below).  
Just a small monkey on his back

But these lean spells are modest compared to those of some other top line batsmen. Most spectacular was Alan Border who went 37 matches between scoring 113* against Pakistan in September 1988 and his 106 against Sri Lanka in 1992. Border scored 27 centuries in his 11174 Test runs.

So as monkeys go, Strauss's was just a little squirrel monkey and, despite the press's shrieking, not a huge gorilla. Unless, of course, he has a heroin problem, or his mortgage is a worry.

**warning - all sums are FB's and they may vary from official statisticians with serious computer power behind them

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