Durham alumnus Andrew Strauss declares 'first-class' loyalties
(12 April 2011)
History-making England cricket captain and Ashes hero, Andrew Strauss, an Economics graduate from Durham in 1998, has received yet another accolade with the award of an honorary degree.
Strauss, flanked by former England test centurion and fellow Durham alumnus Graeme Fowler, who was his coach at England's first MCC University at Durham, was awarded an honorary doctorate in civil law by Durham University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Chris Higgins.
Making his first public appearance on home soil, in Lord's historic Long Room, since an enthralling start to 2011 with England's record-breaking Ashes win and a barnstorming run to the ICC World Cup quarter-finals, Strauss was quick to acknowledge the role his days in the lecture theatres and playing fields of Durham played in driving his career.
In his 2009 book, 'Testing Times: In Pursuit of The Ashes' he reflected "Whenever I wasn't reading economics (which was often) I underwent the transition from being a recreational cricketer into one who had the ambition to play the game for a living."
Pictured in a Durham graduation robe, he spoke further of how his academic (and non-curricular) endeavours at Durham, where he was a member of Hatfield College from 1995, shaped him not just as a cricketer, but as a leader.
"In my time at University I learnt about the game and about myself. With the help of Foxy (Fowler), my teammates and my College, I instilled in myself the ambition and the values that I rely on today - on and off the field."
Durham coach Fowler, best remembered for the 'double-double century' partnership at the 1985 Test in Chennai with Mike Gatting (who became Strauss' coach at Middlesex), looked back on Strauss' time at Durham with great fondness.
He said: "Andrew was always such a gifted ball player, be it rugby, golf or tennis and after an unspectacular start as a batsman, it was wonderful to see Andrew develop this part of his game with some sparkling innings in his third and final year with us.
"This came about by simply getting him to 'think' whilst on the field and to get cricket, and his ambitions, into perspective and to focus on a career in the game."
Director of Sport and Dean of 'Experience Durham', Dr Peter Warburton added:
"The Centre of Excellence at the University, which was in its infancy at that time, and Graeme in particular, helped Andrew to think and to grow as a player, but no one could have imagined just how much he'd go on to achieve."
The black-tie congregation dinner at Lord's was also attended by some of Durham University's sporting stars from the past and present including England Women's Ashes-winning star, and Natural Sciences student, Holly Colvin. Other cherished sporting alumni from Durham include Strauss' fellow national-team standard-bearers Will Carling, Nasser Hussain and Olympian Jonathan Edwards.