Strauss' form in the spotlight
Andrew Strauss knows full well, however many runs he scores for Middlesex, his form will be scrutinized ahead of England's Test preparations.
The statistics - his outstanding past record, as much as his current and recent struggles - do not lie, and mean questions about the opener's relative lack of productivity remain pertinent.
The England captain is not a man who appears to go to extremes, and even in his vain search for a 20th Test century in 25 innings since Brisbane 2010, there has been something of the 'steady Eddie' about the run of mediocre but hardly individually disastrous scores which have proliferated.
It is nonetheless a jarring discrepancy for a batsman who had such a knack, in his early international days, of passing three figures to have gone 18 months without doing so.
One of Strauss' great virtues, in his time as a dual Ashes-winning and world-beating captain, has been his refusal to shirk a pressing subject.
He has made a career of confronting the new ball, and has always been unfazed and reasoned too whenever circumstances require public pronouncements - as they so regularly do, in his line of work - to account for himself or his team.
It seemed out of character therefore when, fresh back from England's taxing and largely unsuccessful winter in the United Arab Emirates and then Sri Lanka, that he should 'bite' on a subject which is historical enough to be a mere side issue.
It was a Bob Willis special which contended that the reason for Strauss' decision to retire from one-day international cricket, after last year's unsuccessful World Cup campaign, had more to do with the opinions of his wife than other considerations of whether it was best for him and England.
"That was pretty disappointing, considering the person in question knows neither me nor my wife," Strauss said.
"I didn't feel, I don't feel, that the talk of me finishing after that game was right.
"I can't agree with that, but those are the things you have to deal with as an England player."
It is rarely a great idea to expound on personal reasons for public decisions. More interestingly perhaps, it does remain a moot point as to whether sacrificing the captaincy of the limited-overs team is likely to have the desired effect of extending a Test career - certainly it did not appear to do so for Strauss' predecessors Nasser Hussain or Michael Vaughan.
Whatever those imponderables, though, Strauss is a prime candidate to come through the tests of his character posed by his current lack of form.
For one thing, he has done so before - with a career-best 177 in Napier in March 2008, which followed an even longer century drought; for another, more than anyone, Strauss knows the score and the high stakes for an England captain.
"Nobody is beyond criticism," he said recently, adding, however, that he is naturally uncomfortable if he feels he may have let his side down.
"I hate my players having to come out and defend me - as a captain you want to feel that you are one of the first names on the team sheet, so that has been very frustrating.
"But I was so determined, and feel very determined to take the team further."
Strauss took one step forward, and perhaps a smaller one back, with a first-innings 61 and then a second-innings duck - when the match was as good as won - in his most recent Test in Sri Lanka.
"What Colombo has taught me is how much gas there is left in the tank yet," he added.
"No one likes to be the topic of the month - it's not fun to feel that pressure.
"I had a long chat with (coach) Andy Flower, and we agreed that sometimes when you become the focus it forces you to confront the problem.
"It shouldn't get to the stage where you need a jab to perform, but it often does.
"There are countless examples of players who have timed their run late to re-establish their credentials."
Contrary to the expectations of some, it will be no straightforward task for Strauss to start that process in the three-match series against West Indies - who in Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach have new-ball bowlers capable of exploiting any helpful early-summer conditions.
The rewards, though, will be significant if he can - for Strauss and for England, who are not ready yet to lose the central figure in their rise to the top of the world rankings.