The Rock heartbroken by cricket tragedy


Test matches at Lord's are always cause for celebration but day two of the second Ashes clash will be tinged with sadness as the iconic venue turns red for Ruth Strauss.

Just as the Pink Test in Sydney - spearheaded by Australian cricket great Glenn McGrath after he lost his wife Jane to breast cancer - has become an annual event that raises money for breast care nurses, Lord's is following suit.

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Spectators have been encouraged to wear red on the second day in London in support of the Ruth Strauss Foundation, which was set up by ex-England captain Andrew Strauss after his wife died of lung cancer last year aged 46.

The foundation provides grants for lung cancer research and also offers support to patients and their families affected by the disease.

Strauss opened up on his family tragedy on day one of the second Ashes Test, explaining how the grief of Ruth's death will never leave him even as he and his children learn to adjust to their new life without her.

"Going as well as can be expected. It's been a tough seven months since Ruth died and probably an even tougher 12 months leading up to her death," Strauss told broadcaster Jonathan Agnew on the BBC Test Match Special podcast.

"But one thing you realise when you've got young kids is that life doesn't stand still, it always moves forward. They're busy, they're at school and there are plenty of jobs to do around the house.

"I've been very much on duty and just navigating our way through one day at a time. It's definitely got a bit easier but at the same time that grief doesn't leave you and you just have days where you remember and that's part of the process."

Part of the Ruth Strauss Foundation's work is geared towards helping families and cancer patients come to terms with what's ahead and also dealing with the aftermath of a loved one's death - something very close to the cricket great's heart.

Strauss revealed he and Ruth were "petrified" about the impact her death would have on their young children.

They saw a counsellor who explained the most important thing was to be open with their emotions so their kids could see it was normal to be scared about what was ahead, and that process was extremely helpful in easing their fears about how the children would be affected.

Andrew Strauss wants to honour his wife Ruth's legacy.
Andrew Strauss wants to honour his wife Ruth's legacy.

Strauss remembers being "blown away" when he played in a Pink Test at the SCG and said McGrath's work in raising awareness and funds - about breast cancer and the care that's required around that - has inspired him.

"To understand how much awareness and money comes out of it, which then makes a difference to people's lives, you guys (the McGrath Foundation) have paved the way and that makes it easier for those of us that follow," Strauss said.

"If we can in some way replicate what they've done then I'll be very happy and I know that Ruth would be looking down feeling very honoured, a bit embarrassed, and very proud as well that we've been able to do something that really does make a difference."

Everyone’s being encouraged to wear red on day two.
Everyone’s being encouraged to wear red on day two.

Jane McGrath died in 2008 and Glenn said he can relate to what the Strauss family went through, particularly in regards to how a death caused by cancer can impact children.

The legendary paceman said although telling his son and daughter their mum was going to die was heartbreaking, he's glad he was able to prepare them in some way for what was about to happen.

"Once we realised that was it, three days out to tell James and Holly that mummy was going to pass away was easily the hardest thing I've ever had to do," McGrath said.

"The fact that we prepared them a little bit three days prior made that so much easier but still, telling them what was about to happen was worse, for me, than when it actually did happen.

"Those memories are always going to be there but unfortunately there's a lot of people who go through something very similar and if we can make life a little bit easier in some way - the McGrath Foundation is about support, it's about awareness, what Straussy is doing is a little bit similar - but again that support and making life just a little bit easier in a pretty terrible time."