The TFT Captaincy Formula

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?

James Morgan


  • Can’t argue with your logic James. Achieved within your allocated five minutes…
    The House of Commons is apparently ‘encouraging’ the FA to reform itself. Why can’t they do the same for the ECB?

    • Possibly because they can threaten to withdraw £30-40m of grassroots funding from the FA. I assume the ECB doesn’t take any public money to promote grassroots cricket (mainly because it doesn’t appear to spend any).

  • Stop making me laugh. I’m trying to be cross with you. Lovely stuff James. You brightened up a dreary day. Root gets it, no more arguing. ?

  • What does Broad keep in his Spanish drawers? Or do you mean ‘cojones’? And what’s wrong with saying ‘nads’? :-)

    • I wonder if the auto spell check changed it to cajones. Or maybe my Spanglish just isn’t up to scratch these days?

  • James,

    Really enjoyed this and, of course, you are almost definitely right. I hate this stuff about the captaincy undermining his batting. It might happen but why on earth should it particularly if he can go down to 4 – his ideal position? I see Kohli got another ton today – I wonder if his batting might have been adversely affected if he was not made captain after so much build up?

    Having said all that, I do think (and have thought for some time) that Woakes is an interesting alternative. I believe he captained very well when he took the Lions to Sri Lanka three years ago. He comes across as a thinking cricketer who does not just spout the normal cliches all the time. I would like to see him bat higher because he has talent but what can you do when there are 5 no 6s and 7s to get in a side. And I do think he gets in the side although I must admit choosing between him or Wood is a conundrum. I see him as a shoe-in for Jimmy quite soon. Anyhow, just a thought.

    Please keep up the good work – great blog as long as everyone is civil!

  • Agree, Root captain and in the number 4 spot. I’d have Stuart Broad as Vice Captain. Might sort his batting out.

  • I wonder if Ian Bell is a candidate…if Joe Root turns the job down, or (goodness me, I hope not) Root gets a long term injury…?

    • You beat me to it with this thought! A senior pro and battle-hardened campaigner, he still potentially has a lot to offer as a former vice captain who now has a spell as a county skipper on his CV.

      He’s about the strongest contender from outside the current squad and the ECB would be remiss not to at least consider him. I know it won’t happen though (I think we can take it as read that the ECB are, in fact, remiss…)

  • The ECB does does public money but in a slightly different way through millions of pounds worth of Sky subscriptions from punters who want to watch the game but were bullied behind a paywall.

  • If not Root then why has he been the VC the last couple of years? Yes it might affect his batting, but overlooking him after he has been a decent enough vice captain is more likely to.

  • I think Root should get first dibs as he has effectively been groomed for the role and it might knock his confidence if they offered it to someone else at this stage. If this weren’t the case I would genuinely be happy with Woakes or Bairstow too as I feel like there is a bit of fire in both of them.

    Given that’s the best batsman, the wicket keeper, and a potential leader of the attack soon I think they could make quite an effective decision making unit.

  • I agree, James, in principle – but Root may be considering several things, among them the fact that all agree captaincy is hugely demanding, outside playing time, in terms of both time and effort. Given he’s just become father he may be taking that into account – I’m obviously not saying he will, just that he may.
    I *think* I’m right in saying none of Athers, Nasser, Vaughan, Strauss or Cook had young families when they first took the captaincy?

  • James I’m sure root will be captain, I think the delay in the announcement of cook stepping down confirmed that. Think all they’re doing is sorting out the vice captain, could be either stokes Bairstow or broad, I’d be inclined to go with broad

  • Oh James, you really got my hopes up for a moment. The thought of Stokes spontaneously combusting is one of the strongest arguments for making him captain that I can think of. At least the lockers and windows in Lords would be saved.

    More seriously, Woakes not a certain pick? A better bowler than Stokes and at least as good (and a more consistent) bat. And I say this as a West Brom supporter! Unless Anderson discovers the fountain of youth, Broad has a knee transplant and Wood gets a pass from the hospital (and all of this simultaneously) Woakes is a nailed on pick – and even if the 3 things happen he should be picked ahead of Stokes.

  • BREAKING NEWS: It’s is being reported (seriously) that Strauss has interview both Broad and … wait for it … Ben Stokes for the captaincy.

    This is just getting farcical now. It’s like one of those business tenders when they have to let X number of companies pitch for the work so there’s a perception of due process. Yet there’s only ever going to be one winner.

    This is all a complete waste of time. I can only conclude that Strauss is either obsessed with processes or obsessed with giving the impression that he’s being thorough.

    • Given the three interviewed even I would suggest the wording of the tweet is unfortunate, carrying the suggestion that Broad and Stokes are a ‘giant douche’ and a ‘turd sandwich’. :)

      • Hi Andy. It’s a South Park reference. Not trying to say either one is a giant douche (!) just saying that neither one is a viable candidate! And Root is the only realistic candidate.

    • you do appear to be somewhat obsessed with all this James. I mean in the great scheme of things how is this going to affect your everyday life. Well you be less well off financially or have an unhappier home life if Strauss interviews other people. Time I suggest for you to find a dark room, damp cloth over your eyes and think of clouds

      • You might not believe it but ‘James Morgan’ is just a nom de blog. My real name is Ruth Strauss (our MD’s wife). So yes, all this does affect my domestic life and general happiness.

        Andrew is never at home to help with the kids these days. He’s always “working” … or at least pretending he is. And he’s obsessed with bloody processes. You should see him trying to decide whether to put jam or dog shit on his toast every morning at breakfast.

        You’d think it was a no brainer … but he spends 3 weeks deciding (just to make sure he’s covering all the bases).

          • All great fun, but for me the the interesting thing is that Broad and Stokes have even put their names forward.
            Maybe they are all just going through the motions, or maybe a Joe Root captaincy isn’t as universally supported within the team as has been supposed.

        • I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if you actually believed that James. But when did this obsession with Strauss and his Wife start, I bet Cooks missus must be delighted as at one time she was in the firing line as well.

        • you see I didn’t even know his wife’s name was Ruth or and for the life of me I cant remember Cook’s wife name. But I am sure you will be able to tell me. Along with their dress size and what type of clothes they prefer wearing.

  • The more I think about it Broad does make a lot of sense. He’s only got one format to concentrate on and is a certainty in the team for the next couple of years.

    He would have the experience and seems to have a fire about him.

    What’s the case against?

    • Knee tendonitis. It is a chronic condition which can recur at any time (or you can be lucky for a while). Best comparison is the effect on Rafa Nadal of recurring elbow tendonitis.

    • Broad is the 2nd best option but the idea of him being in charge of DRS gives me sleepless nights. His batting is also a problem. Yes I know he’s primarily a bowler but the way he backs away now (understandably a bit scared after being hit on the noggin) doesn’t send the right message at all.

    • They’re not major issues though are they? I mean if he suffers a recurring injury it might be but a VC can always step in. How many tests has he missed for that reason?

      By comparison for most observers I think Root’s workload / expectations with the bat / lack of experience would be rather bigger questions. Also I didn’t get the feeling from his recent comments that he was gagging for the job at this time (although that might have been out of respect for Cook).

      • Historically though, when Broad’s knee plays up, he doesn’t necessarily miss tests but just plays less effectively. It would be a poor show if the skipper was a nailed-on selection, but unable to pull his weight, when rest would do him more good.

  • My take on yesterday’s meetings was that Strauss invited Joe, Broady and Jim in for a chat, but Jim was playing golf so he got Stoker instead.

    I actually think that Strauss was getting their opinion on HIM doing a Brearley thingy, coming out of retirement, taking over as skipper, because there’s nobody else of the right stock chaps!

  • Hey Jimmy jimmmy jimmy Anderson.. yeah you’re old and haven’t got long left (like 12-18 months).. sorry.. oh and you gob off a lot

    Broad.. yeah you were crap at 2020, lost your bottle, will be worse than watto with drs.. how’s the knee?

    Ah jos.. world class mate.. so world class…. red ball tho.. best go play some IPL and we can assess you again for tests off thst.

    Johnny.. what can I say.. ginger… you keep.. world class… too much… sorry

    Ben.. ok so don’t hit me Ben but… you get a bit mad which isn’t a good trait for a leader and tests aren’t about slogging flat bed runs so being all aggressive isn’t a desired trait either.. however, you’re world class.. so world class.. worlds most classiest world class player ever..

    Alright skip… I mean Joe… umm, yeah… see you soon skip

  • I wouldn’t be against Broad for 12-18 months. He’s very experienced, played with and under a variety of captains and of course can always lean on his Dad. So all in all he should have a very good cricketing brain.
    They always say bowling captains underbowl themselves but we’ve a 5/6 man attack so this isn’t a problem.

    If Root has got any doubts and you do have to factor in his new addition here I think Broad is the way to go.
    It’ll wind up the Aussies too.

  • All very well asking who is the best of the bunch but the burning questions is: Are any of these candidates from the right sort of background and the right sort of family? If not, they’re all Doomed!!!

    • You first sentence should read “the burning questions ARE” not IS, plural and all that sort of thing,
      you are welcome


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