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.
I think that we will need Strauss to stay on at least for the South bAfrican Tour where their reliance on pace should suit Strauss, Cook and KP. Other wise we will put somebody else in to get easy runs against the Windies and then be exposed in the second half of the season as has happened before.
Everything Maxie says is true, but there’s just one problem that I can’t see being resolved. Strauss is a simply terrible player of spin. Always has been – and I fear always will be. He must be the only international cricketer to have been tied in knots by Nathan Hauritz. He also used to have terrible problems against Warne – yes, he wasn’t the only one, but these problems have now been repeated against most spinners of international quality.
Strauss should probably remain in the side for now, because he’s our best bet to beat South Africa this summer. However, the dilemma is that he’s not going to be the man to lead us to success in India this winter …. that means Cook will have to take the reins at the worst possible time i.e. in India, where we’ll be huge underdogs. Therefore, is it wiser to let Cook take over this coming summer?
Basically, the dilemma is a lot trickier than simply saying ‘Strauss has still got a lot of credit in the bank’. At this late stage of his career, he’s not going to master spin bowling. We can’t keep carrying someone who will never score runs in tests in the subccontinent, if that’s really our final frontier. I’m glad I’m not a selector because this dilemma is extremely complex.
Morgsie has a point about Hauritz and it begs the question – nearly three years on, why hasn’t this been worked on?
Other than that, of course Strauss should stay. As an Aussie, it pains me to say it, but he has been a very successful captain. He took a team to Australia and didn’t just win the Ashes – something that very few England captains have ever done – but they wiped the floor with us. He took England from a surprisingly good test side to being the side to beat.
Why di some want him gone? Because he’s having a rough patch. Pppffftt! Give the guy a break. He’s a solid cricketer and deserves better.
Maxie you are just writing this stuff to get me to comment aren’t you?
My thoughts are he is a limited captain who’s ridden on the outstanding success of individual players (Cook, KP, Bell, Prior, Swann, Broad, Anderson) to win games against mis-matched teams.
Name me one peice of captaincy that shows he can inspire the team around him in the face of adversity or change a game with dynamic thinking?
He is adequate at best and when he doesn’t bring runs to the party there is no place for him (keep in mind that he is averaging a whole 31 since Dec 2009, this ‘slump’ isn’t a new thing).