‘Process’ Shows Lack of Proper Succession Planning


First the good news: unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 24 hours you’ll have heard that Alastair Cook has resigned as test captain. It’s the right decision. England need a more aggressive captain who shares the positive outlook of Trevor Bayliss and the team’s attacking young players.

However, there is some bad news: Andrew Strauss has started one of his famous ‘processes’ to find a new skipper. Cue endless management speak, cliches, and nauseating cheesy language that pretends the England cricket team is a corporation rather than a collection of guys playing sport.

Here’s what Strauss said yesterday about naming Cook successor:

There is a process to go through … now’s the chance for myself and selectors, and the coach, to have conversations amongst ourselves and some players in the England environment, to get an understanding of who the right person is, what their philosophy is, and how they intent to take the team forward, so that when we come to announce the new captain, we are sure he’s the right man.

How many ‘oh shut up’ moments did you spot in there? By my reckoning it’s four: “process”, “England environment” (one assumes cricketers are like white rhino who require a specific type of Namibian grass and 300 days of sunshine per year to enjoy a fulfilling life cycle), “philosophy” and “take the team forward”.

Strauss really comes across like a plonker at times. It’s like he’s trying to find the next CEO of Goldman Sachs rather than a cricketer. Everyone has to go through an interview. One can only imagine Ben Stokes’ response when asked about his specific cricketing philosophy: “Erm, I think we should try to, you know, not lose four nil boss”.

Although I’m being somewhat facetious here, there is a more serious point I’d like to make. Surely the fact that we need a ‘process’ reveals the lack of any proper succession planning? It’s almost like England have been caught unawares by Alastair’s decision and are only thinking about the future now.

Cook’s position has been in doubt for some time, so I find it absolutely extraordinary that there haven’t already been talks with management and senior players. Why should the world stop turning while Cook makes up his mind? England should have a captain ready and waiting. Other countries seem to manage it, so why can’t we?

The truth is that Strauss should already know what the chemistry is like in the dressing room. He should be in constant communication with Bayliss and Farbrace and know precisely where England should turn. The fact that England need a ‘process’ indicates to me that he’s out of touch … unless, of course, he just wants to go through a process for the sake of one because a good old process gets him excited.

I wonder what Joe Root makes of this ‘process’. He’s the official vice captain after all. Surely he’s the next cab off the rank … or should that be the next curriculum vitae to be vetted, analysed, assessed and measured? It’s hardly a vote of confidence in his abilities. And let’s not forget what happened to Ian Bell (who was test vice captain as recently as 2014) when someone else leapfrogged him in the captaincy pecking order.

There is another explanation for all this of course: everyone knows damn well that Root is taking over and this ‘process’ is just a sham. In which case why have one? A cynic might suggest this delay is just to give the English cricketing world time to pay homage to Alastair Cook … a luxury that obviously hasn’t been afforded to any other (more successful) England captains I can think of.

Anyway, for the time being let’s just assume that there really is a process. Oh to be a fly on the wall during each painstaking stage. I bet Strauss has invented some kind of system whereby data has been gathered on each candidate and then put through a computer algorithm. The formula will probably end up ranking Root, Bairstow, Broad and Co according to their cricketing IQ, looks, education, speaking voice, and general ability to brown-nose the authorities and make middle-class women and sponsors swoon.

Obviously I have a much better idea. Just get the team and management together one evening, have a chat, have a couple of beers, and then make a bloody decision. Or is that just too simple and straightforward for the corporate juggernaut that English cricket has become?

Oh how I pine for the days of David Gower and his ‘I’m in charge’ T-shirt. At least it was fun when we were crap.

James Morgan


  1. I think it’s time you had a holiday James. You’ve been getting unusually upset with yourself lately.

    Sadly, cricket is now big business but apart from that, I have no problem with a ‘process’. What’s the rush? If there is a job to be done, do it properly.

    Have a nice cup of tea and a sit down. You’ll feel much better afterwards.

    • James is spot on. Strauss and his ridiculous, unnecessary bloody-mindedness have been holding back this team for years. Get over yourself Strauss and stop prevaricating for the sake of it.

    • When Flintoff resigned, Pietersen took over immediately (within 24 hours). When Pietersen was sacked, Andrew Strauss was immediately named his successor. When Strauss resigned, Cook immediately took over. Yet when Cook resigns we’ve got to have a 3 week process … even though he’d been hinting retirement for months! Hmmmm.

        • That’s right Neil. Brain fart as I was typing. Either way the point remains. KP took over immediately. The departure is announced and the successor is named at the same time or immediately afterwards.

          • I’m with you on the buzz words/management crap – Leave it out.

            If Strauss would have said… Right, Myself, Tom, Trev and a few of the senior players are going to spend a few days playing golf in Dubai. Hopefully after a few hours on the 19th hole and a few game of cards we hope to announce our new captain..
            See you next week.

            Would you have preferred that?

            • I would have preferred them to say: “Alastair Cook is stepping down. We’d like to thank him for all his hard work. Obviously there’s been a lot of speculation about Alastair’s future for a while, and that’s given us extra time to think about where the team is going. With that in mind we’ve identified Joe Root < or whoever > as the next England captain, and I’d like to introduce you to him now. Over to you Joe ….”

              • So you’d have held back for a couple of weeks?
                Cookie made his mind up on Sunday I believe, Root (if he’s got any sense) is sunning himself somewhere and so wouldn’t have been available yesterday.

      • I have to say James, you are really making a meal out of this. Strauss or the ECB can do no right in your eyes it seems. Really who cares when the new skipper is crowned. Be it 3 hours, 3 days, or 3 weeks. I honestly believe that if Root had been rolled out yesterday you would have been carping on about that as well. Sorry but it seems to me that you have an agenda regarding all this.

        • William you are new to this blog so I’d like you to know that I’ve praised Strauss when I agree with him. I praised him to the rafters for ignoring Gillespie and appointing Bayliss instead.

          My argument is a simple one. People can argue with the minutiae of my point but the cruz is irrefutable i.e. England should have always had a succession plan in mind. This is common sense.

          This is surely preferable to not even considering who the next captain will be (and Strauss has admitted having no discussions to this end) until Cook steps down and then suddenly giving yourself 3 weeks before the Windies tour to speak to everyone and make a decision.

          Strauss is making a meal of this process but the process couldn’t be more flawed. Either (a) have a succession plan, or at the very least (b) buy yourself some time because the next test isn’t for several months time. What they’ve decided to do – start from scratch and make a decision in 3 weeks – makes no sense from any perspective.

  2. Yesterday they said they wanted someone in place by 22nd February. This morning they say 3 weeks. Just shows how their planning processes work, clearly.

    They will also (most importantly) need to do background checks to absolutely ensure that the person chosen is “of the right stock” old chap.

    In the case of Root, this may take some considerable time, deciphering if he is just a pig farmer, or a country gent. Or they may be having doubts because his image is a little tarnished; “he’s a smoker you know!”

    As far as I recall, only Joe, Broady and Jos have captained at international level, so maybe Strauss is actually considering parachuting someone in to take over.

    This is the ECB, it was never going to be straight forward.

    • Woakes captained the Lions on the tour of Sri Lanka 2 years ago – and was widely praised for a happy, united and successful squad and tour.

      • You are right Andy. If Woakes was not a bowler I’d have him. Other than that, get Buttler down to the nets fast and teach him how to be a proper batsman.

        • Woakes has taken 8 wickets in 7 Tests away from England at an average of over 60.

          I’d guess one basic expectation of the next captain is that he’s assured his place in the team for the away Ashes coming up.

          • His record in 2016 is more relevant given that before then he was only given the odd test on billiard tables. No England seamers had success (or conditions) in India and he did as well as any (especially when he tried to decapitate Pujara). As a bowler he is more assured of his place than anyone (given the Broad/Andersen health issues).

            • Woakes got the odd Test because his performances didn’t demand any more.

              He took 3 wickets at 81 in India. Only Ball had a worse average. Hitting batsmen on the helmet is only any use if it gets the batsman out – when has it been an aim in itself?

  3. By my reckoning, the next England test match is against South Africa in early July, so I don’t see the problem if England take their time and make the right appointment. However, this is the ECB, so the chances of the second part happening are considerably less than those of the first part.

    I wonder if Root has indicated that he doesn’t really want the job (at the moment or at all) so the selectors are looking elsewhere. Or maybe they’re concerned that one of their two best batsmen (indeed, only reliable batsmen) might lose form. Or they just want to explore the options.

  4. I don’t see the problem – no doubt if Root was appointed immediately you’d say it could only be because they knew Cook was resigning and why have they kept it secret.
    Strauss – damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Go figure……

    • I think you’re misunderstanding Pam. The timing of this announcement doesn’t bother me. The fact things might have been a secret doesn’t bother me. It’s the fact that they’ve known Cook might step down for a long time (he hinted this would be his last tour before India anyway) so they’ve had weeks to identify a successor. Yet they’re only going to start ‘a process’ of identifying a successor and talking to the team management now? It’s just bizarre.

      A competent organisation would have a proper succession plan … just like Australia did when Michael Clarke resigned. In fact, it was known Smith would take over before Clarke had even officially retired.

      England have had months to prepare for this. They should have held a joint press conference to announce Cook’s departure and at the same time introduce the new captain. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when Strauss resigned and Cook took over … immediately.

      The only time a ‘process’ might be needed, and a delay is necessary, is when a captain resigns suddenly or unexpectedly and there’s no obvious candidate to replace him. For example, the vice captain might have had the job before, has baggage, or doesn’t want the full captaincy etc. In this case Root has clearly been groomed for the role, and he’s the official vice captain, so why all the mucking around?

      • Maybe because Root is in two minds? I just don’t see why you’re targeting Strauss and the ECB, it seems to be just for the sake of it.

        • Seems odd for Root to be in two minds (if he is) when 1) He is the vice captain and 2) Cooks resignation seemed to be announced on the cover of The Cricketer’s magazine a couple of weeks back. I would guess those in the know knew Cook was planning to go.

        • I’m having a go because it seems ridiculous to have ‘a process’ that’s (a) only beginning now, and (b) seems completely unnecessary. Cook has been hinting about resigning for so long that it just seems totally unorganised.

          I’m also reacting to the corporate management speak. It’s my career (as a professional copywriter) to fight against corporate speak and buzzwords. By using ridiculous language like ‘team environment’, ‘culture’, ‘philosophy’ etc the ECB is trying to look modern and dynamic but in reality it’s actually having the opposite effect. The fashion these days is to avoided long-winded cliches, and communicate in ordinary down-to-earth language that people can relate to i.e. speaking to your audience as equals.

          The language the ECB use is old hat and does their brand no good at all. But they’re completely oblivious to this. Again not a good sign. You can tell a lot about a company / brand by the way it communicates.

          • When I was director of an insurance company we had a term for the use of such language. We called it ‘luvvie bollocks’.

      • "IronBalls" McGinty on

        They went through the “process” when Flower got his cushy job. Spent squillions on recruitment consultants, tasked to search on a global basis. What did we end up with? Peter Moores….go figure!!

        • When Moores left the first time they hired extremely expensive head hunters, cast the net wide (apparently), and then ended up appointing Moores’ deputy Andy Flower, who’d been under their nose the whole time!

  5. Bloody hell, can you imagine the outrage in the press if Root says he does not want the captaincy. It would be worse than Morgan not going to Bangladesh…

  6. they’ve just realised they can use this as an excuse to make it look like they have really complicated and important jobs, when really they’ll just be quaffing back the wine and doing a spot of grouse shooting with their minds already made up on Root. Expect white smoke to be billowing out of ECB HQ in a month’s time.

    • So Giles Clarke is a country squire, I didn’t know that. Next you will be saying that he has a pit where young children work 20 hours a day for a bowl of dripping.

      • Perhaps a little unfair to Clarke but he did drop himself in it when he introduced the ‘family test’ as a reason for Cook being captain.

        • I just think this idea that the ECB is a group of gin swilling dodderers, is a bit silly really. In the past the MCC was like that and more. But we have professional people now in charge and Graves is a grammar school lad, who is a businessman who made his own way to the top. So he is not “one of us” as some people like to state. As for Clarke, not to put too fine a point on it, he is a wine salesman. Not exactly Eton, Sandhurst and the Guards is it.

            • a girl I worked with from a small farm in Co Tyrone, got a first at Oxford as did the son of my best chum. Oh and also from a rural town in Ireland. Strange that isn’t it. Both never feel the need for grouse shooting, or weekends at the family pile or driving up to town for a night in Annabels. Maybe they should apply for membership of the MCC, seeing as you think that is a guarantee of them getting on the ECB

              • I assume they also moonlighted at Rugby School in between working in the fields and brewing the moonshine? You may not have to be a toff to get into the MCC or a role with the ECB but – however you look at it – Giles Clarke is from a privileged background and is not just a ‘wine salesman’.

                But we should get back to the point you failed to take up. Clarke introduced the ‘family test’, so opening himself to any amount of class satire and ridicule.

            • The family test you sa y. When was that introduced. I take it you believe that Cook had to produce documentation to prove his family had royal blood dating back to the Tudors. That he rode to hounds and never went anywhere without his valet.

            • No they didn’t work the fields. One is a senior police officer and the other is a lecturer. Still it’s great to see you subscribe to the old paddy stereotype. Good job the peace process is going well, God knows what you would have accused them of next

  7. You know. It is much more simple down under. The Captain quits and the next best batsmen gigs the job. In NZ McCullum retires and Williamson who is the next best younger batsman gets the job. It’s a simple algorithm. You don’t need a spreadsheet to figure it out.

    Strauss is an old woman. I guess he is pondering whether England should have a Captain called ROOT or whether he can stomach another Captain with a four letter surname

    • Exactly mate. They’re making a very simple decision sound like it’s rocket science. They’re trying to look professional and clever when what they’re actually doing is looking indecisive, self important and slightly absurd.

      • Except that we have had a succession of batsmen as captain who have no idea how to handle their bowlers. Other countries seem to realise that a bowler (or all rounder) can be a better choice – such as Imran, Daniel Vettori, Shaun Pollock, Kapil Dev, Darren Sammy and Courtney Walsh. Even when playing in dodgy sides and having problems at least they did not think the game begins and ends with the batsmen.

          • Rather a generalisation. There seem to be players who are injury prone (such as Wood) or those who carry a chronic condition needing to be managed but not cured (Broad, Mills) but otherwise I see little evidence that bowlers are so badly affected they cannot be captain. Admittedly I would draw the line at a bowler who injures himself by punching a locker….. 🙂

    • In December 2015, McCullum announced his retirement after the Australia series in February 2016.

      Kane Williamson was confirmed as test captain in April 2016, 5 months after McCullum’s announcement and 2 months after McCullum’s last test.

      • Did NZ announce a process and a thorough review of team environment and philosophy before deciding that Williamson was the man? Did their selectors have no discussions whatsoever with Williamson before McCullum stood down? It seems to be that Williamson was always the man and no doubt was shed upon his appointment. The situation is different.

      • Pete Cresswell on

        Last time I looked there was 2-3 months between February & April (depending on timings) not 5 😉

        Everyone knew Williamson was next in line – and in between times KW was NZ’s captain for the T20 World Cup.

        NZ had the debacle over the Vettori succession where rival factions in NZC touted Taylor & McCullum, we’re not daft enough to make the same mistake (inside a decade at least)

        • ‘Last time I looked there was 2-3 months between February & April (depending on timings) not ‘
          Indeed there are – but Hamish said McCullum announced in December 2015 and Williamson was appointed in April 2016. So his 5 months was absolutely correct.

          • Pete Cresswell on

            I stand corrected,

            The appointment was still a formality mind (barring KW falling flat on his face at the T20 WC). And Williamson had already stood in for McCullum on a number of occasions in limited overs matches. We certainly weren’t daft enough to bother with a formal interview process. Practicality is one reason why NZ punches above it’s weight in international cricket (#1 in T20, #3 in ODIs and #5 in tests is pretty good for a small country with a weak economy & small player base). Something England could learn from.

            The ECB have had plenty of chances to blood Root as captain in limited overs (seeing as he doesn’t get the chance at domestic level), so James’ original point about poor succession planning stands

  8. There seems to be a general misunderstanding that the ‘process’ is about the captaincy of the England test team. It is really a practice session for Strauss to understand the requirements for when he seeks a Conservative seat at the next election. Hence the due diligence required……

    ……what school did you attend?
    ……do you have a private income?
    ……is your wife presentable at court?
    ……when you hear the phrase ‘creak of leather, swish of the willow’ do you think of;
    (a) a cricket match or
    (b) Friday night at the Conservative Social Club?

      • Well, Strauss has been widely spoken of as a future Conservative MP. I appreciate that you may resent reminders of their private oddities if you are a Conservative…….but really, time for you to get a personality transplant including a sense of humour methinks.

        • who spoke of Strauss being a future Tory MP? Is there concrete evidence to show that he was asked even. As for a sense of humour, if there was something slightly humorous in you comment, I would have found it. Instead the same old stereotypical nonsense and about as amusing as a mass grave. By the way Andy, I am Irish and working class to the bone and never voted Tory in my life.

          • He was widely spoken of in the press, apparently as a result of party briefings, at the time of the by election for Corby and the bookies were making a book on his becoming an MP.

            However I do agree that Conservative habits are not funny – as evidenced by Elm Guest House.

  9. This piece has really, really irritated me because it seems to be a case of let’s try and have a pop at Strauss no matter what.

    The last game of the India tour was last Wednesday Feb 1st, 6 days ago, which involved Bayliss, Farbrace, Root, Stokes, Ali, Rashid, Buttler, all of whom are key figures across all 3 formats. Since the end of the Ashes summer 2015, they’ve been on tour to UAE, SA, had the World T20 in India, home series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan and almost immediately off to Bangladesh and then India. Root has played 21 tests and 35 white ball matches since the Ashes, not including warm ups and domestic matches. The players are undoubtedly shattered. Cook has cited how draining the job is, Strauss is making his decisions based on 50 tests as England captain.

    The next ODI is on 25th February in the West Indies which is followed by Champions Trophy, a series against the Saffers, the Windies and then an Ashes tour. There is absolutely no value in rushing through an announcement. If it is Root, all that would be happening at the moment would be press conferences and reporters camped on his doorstep when he needs a little bit of time off.

    That brings me onto when they were meant to be having discussions with players and coaches – between 20th December and January’s ODI/T20 series? Or was it more sensible to give them a decent break for Christmas and little things like having a first child. Possibly Straussy should have met them at Heathrow and not let them have a week or so to clear the heads after a tough 3 months to spend time with families / new babies.

    And why would Strauss be talking to Root about the test captaincy in the middle of the last month in India when he needed to be concentrating on the cricket he was playing rather than a test match in July. To me, it makes absolute sense for him NOT to be having those conversations with Root, Bayliss or anybody else when they were trying to salvage something from the winter.

    The comparison with the KP / Strauss appointments are bogus as Vaughan (not Flintoff) resigned mid series to be replaced by KP, and when KP stepped down / was pushed in January 2009, England had a test series in the West Indies the following month. In both cases, there was an immediate test match coming up. As it is, the next England captain will have more than 4 months to prepare for his 1st test match, Pietersen had 4 days, Strauss had 4 weeks.

    As for the word ‘process’, sportsmen talk about processes all the time, cricketers have processes between every ball, golfers before every swing, goal kickers before every kick. Is it such a scary word? Doesn’t mean that it involves spread sheets. It’s a fairly straightforward word. He could have used ‘steps’, ‘procedure’, ‘mechanics’

    And how about this as a possible process – Cook tells Strauss he wants to quit a month ago, they decide to delay the announcement till after the end of the India tour so as not to kick off the inevitable speculation and distract the team from the job in hand. Strauss consults Bayliss and they decide on this time schedule to give everybody a break after probably the toughest 3 months they’ve had as an England team.

    Oh, and one last thing – the next test is not until JULY 6th. If anybody can tell me what pressing duties the England test captain needs to be performing in the next 3 weeks I will absolutely concede that England’s ‘succession planning’ has been poor. As it is, this is just a made up criticism. There are plenty of reasons to criticise the ECB, this is not one of them.

    • You’re completely missing my point Hamish. The major issue is that England shouldn’t need a process or discussions to decide who the replacement for Cook should be. And the timings are largely irrelevant. There should have been a proper succession plan over a period of months – so when Cook stood down the heir was ready and waiting … just like when Smith replaced Clarke and Kohli replaced Dhoni. Everyone knew all along what was going to happen. Instead they’re acting like they’ve never thought about what life would look like when Cook stood down.

      As for having a pop at Strauss no matter what, I’ve often defended Strauss in the past, and praised him when he’s done things I agree with. I’m just calling each issue as I see it. Sorry if you disagree on this one.

      • Normally agree with you James but think Hamish is bang on here and has addressed your point fully. It would be foolishness NOT to have process / discussions at this point – very little to be gained by rushing the replacement out and potentially much to be lost if it’s the wrong guy.

        Clearly there has been a succession plan (Root to VC in preparation), but it is not a static environment. The make up of teams change all the time and people can show the presence (or absence) of development in an area which causes a need to rethink. Timing is not only relevant but fundamental.

        There are plenty of conceivable reasons why they would want to let the dust settle, take stock, and ensure that the plan that they made previously is still the right one. This is good leadership.

      • Like Jamie, I’m inclined to agree with Hamish here. The players were undoubtedly knackered, and needed time off. Maybe Strauss is using the “process” as a smokescreen to give the players a rest. As for “KP replaced Vaughan within a day”. That went so well we should repeat it.

        • I don’t see why fatigue should affect long term succession planning. If Root is the man they’ve groomed why should tiredness change anything now?

          All I’m saying is that a succession plan is surely preferable to starting from scratch now Cook has gone. Read Strauss’s statement. He said it was inappropriate to have discussions about who might lead the team into the future while Cook was still in situ. But why? It’s nonsense.

          And why are they squeezing this into a 3 week period before the Windies tour? There isn’t another test for months? Whatever one’s perspective this process makes no sense.

          If, like me, you wanted an organised succession plan (and they had the luxury of doing this because Cook’s been hinted about stepping down for ages) then it would have been better to say ‘Cook is going and here’s the new skipper’ … rather than having this very public beauty parade with Swann / Anderson etc either opposing or supporting Root’s candidature.

          But if, on the other hand, you think there’s no rush to make an appointment – and you want them to make the right decision and don’t care how long it takes – then why are they squeezing in this ‘process’ in the space of just 3 weeks?

          Somebody please please explain to me why the ECB’s way of doing things i.e. starting and finishing a process in a somewhat arbitrary period in February is a good idea. Either take your time or don’t. And I would have preferred the latter.

      • Sorry – was out of the game a bit yesterday.

        Are you seriously suggesting that Strauss should have been popping up in Bangladesh & India over the last few months having chats with various people about what’s going to happen once Cooky’s gone? What would that have achieved would have been to undermine the current captain and take people’s eyes off the tour they were in.

        The bit you missed from Strauss’s quote was “It would have been entirely wrong for me to have spoken to other players about the captaincy before Alastair stepped down, and especially while two important white-ball series were going on in India.” Even if you don’t agree with it, surely you have to respect the logic behind it.

        As for the lack of succession planning, appointing Root as vice captain in 2015 over Bell, and making Stokes vc of the ODI team for Bangladesh was the start of the succession, but doesn’t mean that they need to dive in the same day Cook resigns.

        The Root appointment was before Bayliss was appointed coach, and they’ve just been through a winter tour that has shown up some significant flaws in the team. Doesn’t it make sense to give Trev a week off to gather his thoughts after 4 months on the road and have a few words, along the lines of:

        ‘Is Root definitely our man?’
        ‘Can you definitely work with him?’ (remember what happened when Moores and KP were thrown together as coach and captain)
        ‘Any problems in the dressing room we need to be aware of?’
        ‘Is there an argument for appointing him across all 3 formats, like other teams have? If so, do we do it now or after Champions Trophy?’
        ‘Is Stokes our man for vice captain or should we leave him to be star player and give it to Chris Woakes’
        ‘Barring injury, who’s your team for the 1st test v SA?’

        Strauss then can have a similar conversation with Root, just checking that there are no underlying issues with Bayliss or anybody else, whether he wants to make significant changes to the team set-up. He can then feel sure that his captain and coach are on the same page. Again, the KP / Moores debacle shows how badly things can go wrong very quickly if captain and coach aren’t on the same page. And Hussain/Fletcher, Vaughan/Fletcher, Strauss / Flower show how successful it can be.

        By having a chat with other players he can just ensure there’s nothing simmering underneath, speak to the old lags like Anderson and Broad, and make everybody feel that their input is important. You never know, Ben Stokes might fancy a cut at the job himself, and if he does, at least Strauss hears what he has to say, even if he goes with Root anyway. Maybe, in the course of his conversations, he finds out that some of the team think that behind Root’s cheeky chappy facade there’s a intense & brooding time-bomb who’s on the verge of breaking down because so much is expected of him.

        And from my previous point, even if they’re holding back the announcement to allow Root time at home with his kid before the inevitable media circus descends, then that’s fine by me as well.

        This should be an appointment for the next 4 years +. Taking 3 weeks to make sure that it’s done right and there are no surprises is good sense and good management.

  10. Agreed on their egregious management wibble and ludicrous self-importance – but it might be worth recalling that if England had just appointed who they thought was the best person for the job at this stage, rather than going through a formal interview, then Mark Ramprakash would have been made captain in 1999. He was apparently the favourite until Nasser Hussain out-performed him in interview.

    Alternatively, they could see which of the candidates can fix a broken sail most quickly. This is reportedly what Andy Flower had the Lions doing at Sandhurst…..

    • William,Atherton et al on

      Re your Ramprakash for skipper. Is this a fact or again just a rumour. As for Sandhurst, maybe the idea was to let them see the work ethic, teamwork, and leadership on show there.

  11. Hamish..

    “Oh, and one last thing – the next test is not until JULY 6th. If anybody can tell me what pressing duties the England test captain needs to be performing in the next 3 weeks I will absolutely concede that England’s ‘succession planning’ has been poor. ”

    They are the ones who yesterday were telling all and sundry that a decision would need to be made before the team leaves for the West Indies in TWO weeks time. Today, they have said it will take at least 3 weeks.

    How long have they known that the next Test series is not until July? Long enough for this to be at the forefront of their minds when making the initial announcement of Cook’s departure? Could they (Strauss) not have said “there is no rush and we will make a decision before the beginning/middle/end of March/April or May?”

    No, they waffled, like they always do, which puts most people backs up because we believe that, despite the warning signs before India, they haven’t got a plan in place.

  12. Just to show that the ECB/TCCB has never been held in great esteem by the fans, I have copied out a piece from Tony Lewis’s column in probably the Telegraph, no date but must be of some vintage. It was regarding the problem at the time of short-pitched bowling and sent in by a reader and cut out by my old Dad who loved collecting this stuff:
    The walrus and the carpenter sat in the Members Stand
    They wept like anything to see bouncers on every hand.
    “Now wouldn’t it be sensible” they said “if these were banned”?
    “If Test and County Cricket Board pondered for half a year
    Do you suppose” the walrus said “that they would interfere?”
    “I doubt it” said the carpenter, “let’s have another beer”.

  13. I’m absolutely with you, James, re. the corporate management speak and (apparent) lack of succession planning.
    You don’t suppose though that a simple decision about who’d be the best bloke to captain a sports team might these days be complicated by a need to consult with other “stakeholders”? I have in mind the sponsors and broadcasters. Think of it in those terms and the “process” might be as much as anything about who comes across well on TV or has the looks and potential bankability (bonkability?!) to appeal to advertisers. Forget about tactical nous or man management skills, maybe the candidates are required to do screen tests and undergo additional media training before a decision dare be made? Perhaps I have a fevered imagination but I’m just about cynical enough now about what international cricket has become that I can conceive of such a scenario. If so then it’s all a load of crap but it seems that money talks loudest in the game these days.

  14. Madaboutcricket on

    Team ECB at it again. They really know how to alienate fans and genuine lovers of the game.. all for the sake of a few beer heads and money.

    Strauss is nothing but a fool, cook should have been fired instead of hounding out kp and this crap about needing attacking captain for attacking young batters.. you mean you want to go head first into a TEST team even more determined to play white ball cricket..yey.. no wonder the quality of test cricket is so poor

    • I didn’t know something had happened to Kevin Pietersen. Don’t tell me he has been lifted up to heaven in a fiery chariot.

  15. I can see 2 arguments against making Root captain. The first is the eternal question: will it affect his batting form? To be fair the likes of Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson tend to counter that. The second (and probably more substantive) issue is that he has almost no captaincy experience. I wouldn’t want to go back to a Mike Brearley style “specialist captain” (we don’t have a Brearley, and we don’t have a Botham), but I’d like someone who knows the job. That would suggest that Chris Woakes (who is pretty much an automatic test pick these days, and has captained Warwickshire and the Lions well) should be in the frame.

  16. The bit of your article I disagree with the most is “England need a more aggressive captain who shares the positive outlook of Trevor Bayliss and the team’s attacking young players.”

    Nope we need a captain who can read the game, adjust the tactics, lead his team, etc. Something that Cook wasn’t very good at…

  17. Perhaps the most interesting development has been Andersons statement supporting Root. It bears all the hallmarks of an organised intervention (either on behalf of the ECB – less likely, given Andersons personality – or on behalf of his mate). I have no problem with this except for the assertion that he is ‘obvious’ and ‘impressive’. I know at least one county player and an administrator (at county level) who think otherwise, although I admit you will find opponents to any appointment. However, I think this is one area where we should think back to the stories of Pietersen in his biography (and no, I do not want him back and never have), where he accused the bowlers of forming a clique to bully several batsmen, including a young Root, who did not have the strength of personality to stand up to them. This does not suggest to me a captains character and does suggest special pleading by Anderson.

  18. James, re your idea about them wanting to unify the different captaincies, you may not have seen this –


    He isn’t always right – and he has sometimes muddled together his personal ideas with what he claims the management are thinking – but I suspect he’s right here (Strauss’s talk of “priorities” and “specialisation” will start to look very thin otherwise).

  19. Definitely stirring up debate James!

    Whilst I don’t personally agree with the thrust of the article (Strauss’ approach), I can’t see that there has been much discussion about the underlying issue.

    Do people think Root IS the right person? Does anybody think he is not? And if not who else in the short or long term?

    For me the other candidate that has presented himself is Woakes, and I think regardless of events he should be get the mythical “senior player” appointment.

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