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Lawrence Booth: Strauss the man with England running out of captains

January 7th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in England, Test cricket and tagged , , , ,

Whether or not Kevin Pietersen has actually resigned – and at the time of writing this was still unclear – we now know one thing for sure: England are fast running out of captains. Among the current dressing room, Andrew Strauss, Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood have already done the job in various formats; and since the 2005 Ashes we can also add Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick to the list. Six skippers in 3½ years looks like an awful lot of indecision.

Speculation this morning has tossed the names of Alastair Cook and Rob Key into the equation. But while Key may have the nous and, crucially, the respect of his friend Flintoff, he is yet to convince as a batsman at the highest level. As for Cook, Gordon Brown would probably point out that now is most definitely not the time for a novice.

Since Flintoff will not be handed the armband again in a hurry and Collingwood stepped down as one-day captain in the summer because he wanted to save his career as a batsman, we are left with Strauss. Would he really be such a bad option?

In a dressing room of egos, Strauss is one of the good guys. He took one for the team by stepping side to allow Flintoff to lead England in Australia two winters ago and can point to victory over Pakistan in 2006 in his only full series in charge. Since the Ashes were won in 2005, he is the only England captain to have achieved a series win over a side other than West Indies or New Zealand. His average as captain is 55. And, crucially perhaps, he has run into form at the right time.

There are problems, of course, but then this is English cricket we are talking about and a new problem seems to crop up every day. The first is that Strauss has not played one-day international cricket since the end of the World Cup almost two years ago and England are loathe to go down the split-captaincy route so soon after uniting the different strands under Pietersen.

The second is that Strauss will need to work hard to convince one or two influential members of the side that he is the man for the job. If the past few days has taught us anything, it is that important figures can be toppled from the inside. But then if the past few years has taught us anything, it is that the very least Strauss deserves is another chance.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Guardian. His third book, Cricket, Lovely Cricket? An Addict’s Guide to the World’s Most Exasperating Game is out now published by Yellow Jersey

Posted in England, Test cricket | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Lawrence Booth: Strauss the man with England running out of captains”

  1.   Paddy Briggs says:

    Who is the Mike Brearley of the modern game? Only one candidate. Into the breach, as with the great Brearley in 1981, comes…


    Welcome back Vaughaney, stopgap or not.

  2.   Daniel Brigham says:

    It’s sad to see KP go - i backed him as captain and I still believe he would been a very good one. But Strauss is the only candidate and, not only that, a very good candidate.

    He deserves massive credit for rebuilding his career after his run of poor form from the 06-07 Ashes - he is clearly a very strong character. He’s also astute, measured and, despite his image, not at all a yes man. He fiercely wants to be captain and believes he would make a very good one. There is no reason to doubt him.

  3.   Peter Redding says:

    I think Strauss will be a good choice for captain. He has past experience of the job and knows what it takes. People will point to the fact that he isn’t in the ODI side but lets face it, none of the openers England have tried in ODI’s recently have succeeded for any length of time, so I think Strauss can easily slot back into that side. It’s not as though any form players will have to drop out to accomodate him.

  4.   Ed's a pimp says:

    Strauss for me. Key is an interesting choice, he can replace Bell in the side quite easily. I disagree that he’s not proved himself at the highest level, I was under the impression that he was dropped to appease some of the fragiler ego’s in the team.

  5.   Sam Collins says:

    Paddy I cannot fathom your rationale.

    Any desire to see Vaughan back scoring runs at three for England must be tempered by the realisation that he remains unpleasantly, even in absentia, the arch politician.

    England took three steps forward with KP, to return to Vaughan would be to miss the point entirely. If there is to be no return for KP, Strauss is the only choice.

  6.   Mike says:

    I would absolutely bring Rob Key back into the England fold to replace Ian Bell. Whether him or Strauss as captain, though? If you don’t give it to Strauss now then you never will but is he the best man for the job?

    Nuts. Pin my colours to the mast.

    Rob Key for captain :)

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