Welcome to The Full Toss captaincy formula. I went with ‘formula’ because it’s even sexier than ‘process’. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Mr Strauss.
In the space of a few pithy paragraphs we’re going to achieve in five minutes what the ECB want to do in three weeks: find the best person to be the next England test captain. And we’re going to employ some hugely scientific methodology to really impress our sponsors.
We call this innovative technique ‘a process of elimination’. Clever huh. I ought to trademark that quick. And if the analysis proves just too challenging for you then don’t worry you’re not alone. I have it on good authority that the algorithm crashed Peter Moores’ iMac.
Anyway here are the candidates …
1. Alastair Cook: Tempting as it might be to bring the ex-skipper’s captaincy back from the grave, this idea is too absurd even for the ECB. Verdict: not an option.
2. Keaton Jennings: He might speak well and possess the necessary spunk but he’s only played two test matches. Making him England captain now would be like making Andrea Leadsom Prime Minister. Plus I imagine he’s just too, well, South African for the board’s sensibilities. Verdict: yeah right.
3. Haseeb Hameed: Young Prince Haseeb was a knockout on his test debut. But making him England’s youngest test captain since Pitt The Embryo is a silly idea. I fear adding the responsibility of captaining an international circus to the emotional baggage of puberty might destroy him. Verdict: grow up.
4. Jonny Bairstow: Now this one is interesting. I like the cut of Jonny’s jib. He’s a competitor and a real talent. But would making him captain put too much pressure on his keeping? I can just see it now: Jonny standing there statuesque, staring into space, as a catch flashes past him. His excuse? He was preoccupied with setting a field for Moeen’s lollipops. Verdict: not for me.
5. Moeen Ali: I love Mo to bits but not even I think it’s a good idea to make him captain. The bloke is so laid back he’s beyond horizontal. And what’s he going to say when he plays one of his trademark swooshes and gets caught behind at the worst possible time? He’d better hope it’s David Gower giving the interview. Verdict: you must be joking
6. Ben Stokes: Good old Ben gets so fired up that he’s likely to spontaneously combust at any time. Can you imagine what the extra responsibility of captaincy would do to him? One bad team collapse and he’ll need to be destroyed in a controlled explosion … just to minimise potential damage to patrons and the fabric of nearby buildings. Verdict: Not if we want to save lives, no.
7. Jos Buttler: Oh we do love Jos. He’s ever such a nice boy. And he’s got talent too. However, he might want to cement a place before he’s considered captaincy material. Verdict: Jos forget it.
8. Adil Rashid: Do I even need to write anything here? Not even Paul Downton would advocate making Adil captain. Verdict: ‘move on’.
9. Stuart Broad: Apparently old Stu Pot is a candidate. And how do we know this? Because he’s the choice of media motormouth Graeme Swann (his old Nottinghamshire mate). Joking aside Broad does have the cojones for the role, but he wasn’t a particularly great T20 captain and he can’t keep himself fit. And then there’s the DRS thing. Verdict: nah.
10. Jimmy Anderson: Much as I love Jimmy he’s never been the best communicator. Plus he’s so cantankerous on the pitch that he could start a fight with his shadow. And how many years does he have left? Verdict: I don’t think so.
11. Chris Woakes: Ah yes the mighty Woakes. I’ve heard worse ideas. He’s a good team man, solid with both bat and ball (and in the field) and being a fellow Aston Villa fan he should be able to handle the calamities than will inexorably come his way. On the down side he’s not guaranteed a place in all conditions. Verdict: I just can’t see it.
12. Steve Finn: yeah right.
13. Gary Ballance: don’t make me laugh.
14. Ben Duckett: yuk.
15. Liam Dawson: who?
16. Zafar Ansari: well he does have the education for it.
17. Alastair Cook: sorry, the mainstream media must have slipped this one in when I wasn’t looking
18. Joe Root: Thank heavens. We finally have a sensible and realistic candidate to consider. He’s the current vice-captain, so we assume he’s been groomed for the role, and he’s his country’s champion batsman – much like Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith. Verdict: now you’re talking.
So there we have it. We’ve been through all the available candidates and discovered what we already knew before: that Joe Root is the best option. There are concerns – the captaincy might affect his batting – but this is international sport and you can’t think negatively. If India had kept the captaincy away from Kohli because they were worried it might affect his form we would’ve laughed at them.
The bottom line is this: cometh the hour, cometh the man, and that man is Joe Root. If you think he’ll make a good England captain then he’s clearly the right choice. And if you don’t like the idea then get over yourself. Why? Because he’s the only choice. There’s nobody else.
Now go away and treat yourself to a sit down. You deserve it. After all you’ve just done three week’s work in five minutes. These processes are bloody exhausting. How do the ECB cope?