The future of Andrew Strauss as England captain is the big talking point of the moment, so today we’d like to hear your views.
The situation we now find ourselves in represents arguably the single trickiest dilemma of international cricket management and selection. A hugely successful and admired captain is making little contribution as a player, and his team is losing.
Here at TFT we’re going to argue that Strauss should stay, and here’s why.
As a skipper, he has accrued far too substantial a reserve bank of respect and achievement for him to be discarded unless the case for his removal is irresistible.
When he began the job, in 2008/09, Strauss inherited the shambolic aftermath of the KP/Peter Moores fiasco. Despite losing his first series in charge, in the West Indies, he rapidly forged a team spirit and effectiveness which propelled his side to the Ashes triumph of 2009. Not content with that accolade, Strauss resolved to drive England on further, and further yet – to play better cricket, to improve skills and effectiveness, to an increasingly ruthless professionalism, and to win.
He has won the Ashes twice, both home and away – something few England captains in our entire history can boast about. He led us to number one in the world, and did so without having many, or maybe any, genuine superstar matchwinners in his XI. Strauss has never had a Botham, a Flintoff, a Gooch or Gower.
Strauss may not be the greatest tactician, but he is a superb manager – the best that I can think of in my thirty years as a supporter. He is hugely respected by his players, authoritative, intelligent, rational, superbly organised and analytical, unflappable, focussed, and wise.
As a batsman, Strauss has nineteen test centuries – and no Englishman has more than twenty two. He has more than once bounced back from runs of poor form. The deeply frustrating element of his current struggles – for him as much as us – is that he doesn’t look in poor form. He has made more runs than KP or Bell this winter, and has not been outshone by Cook. Strauss makes starts, and looks in perfectly good touch – but keeps getting out to poor shot choices when nearly set. Is he trying too hard?
On this blog, we have always been sceptical about Alastair Cook’s premature annointing as future England captain. Overall, he has impressed the majority of observers so far as ODI skipper. But it feels a little too soon yet to promote him – surely better he has another year to learn, than step in now, when the team are under the cosh. And apart from his first innings in Abu Dhabi, Cook’s own form this winter has been subdued.
After 2005, when England last had the potential to dominate test cricket, the team fell apart because the personnel framework was shattered. Trescothick fell ill, the bowlers had innumerable injuries, Simon Jones vanished, and Michael Vaughan was more absent than present as a result of his knee problem.
The response to England’s present travails is to learn from that earlier period. One, or maybe two, batting places should be reviewed and maybe refreshed. But changing the captain, and the whole tone of the team set-up, at a difficult time like this, would be massively counter-productive.
Our best chance of getting out of this mess is under Strauss, who rescued us in 2009. His experience, savvy, and level-headedness are what we need right now, not a rookie. Far better that Cook takes over from a position of strength – when the side are winning cricket matches.