Two’s company but three’s a crowd!
In light of Andrew Strauss’ sparkling 150 on what must have been a road at Uxbridge, given that Middlesex didn’t even take a wicket in the first innings, AlphaSpur responds to KP’s comments on whether the 3 captain rule is a valid one.
The England cricket team has broke new ground recently, voting ‘Yes’ to the Alternative Captain system. Three formats now means three skippers! But with high profile players such as Pieterson admitting that ‘no-one knows whether it’s going to work’ what is the idea behind the forward thinking and will England’s decision to appoint different captains for each format of the international game be a success?
Andrew Strauss will unsurprisingly carry on with his role in charge of the Test side after the team’s recent success in the longer form of the game, but has decided to retire from limited-overs cricket following the sides less then impressive World Cup exit in March. Strauss was one of the teams highest run scorers so his absence leaves a gap at the top of the order which will desperately need filling.
Alastair Cook was always favorite to be put in charge for one-day internationals and as Vice Captain is firmly seen by many as Strauss’s understudy to the 5-day team. However he has not been selected in limited over’s cricket for over a year and that was only because he was leading the tour to Bangladesh in Strauss’ absence. Many will view this as further evidence that the ECB are still unsure on their approach to this form of the game, even perhaps not taking it seriously and using the position as a practice before being handed the test team captaincy. There is no doubt Cook has all the attributes of a test captain. The man born on Christmas day showed some divine batting in the ashes and his intelligent, professional and well mannered approach to the game makes him an ideal selection. I just question whether the skills learnt whilst captaining the 50-over side are directly transferrable. Granted the art of captaincy is the same in all formats but the games are very different and require different ideas and innovations. In fact I think a bigger problem may be his lack of runs in ODI’s, often the runs a captain makes counts as much as the decisions. Having said that, Trott aside, there isn’t an England cricketer who can boast good solid one day form so Cook’s inclusion is less of a surprise.
The biggest shock of the three choices will be that of the young Stuart Broad succeeding Paul Collingwood in Twenty20s. ‘Colly’ had come off the back of a World Cup win, still England’s only success on the international circuit to date and Broad, for all his talent, is still hot headed in his decision making when fielding and bowling. Having his temperament and decision making put under the microscope in the shortest form of the game will be interesting. One assumes they see him as a future captain, but I hope the ECB has not purely chosen him to give him experience to one day captain the 50 over’s side so that he can gain more experience until he is ready for the test side! It has the feel of a production line about it and that concerns me. Captains need to learn their trade, that is true and with central contracts and lack of county matches the England players have nowhere else to learn but on the field at international level. Michael Vaughn has touted Broad as his number one choice for the one day job but it does seem a little premature seeing as his recent record of match fines and tirades of abuse directed at umpires and players is not the type of etiquette required in a captain.
Apart from Strauss leading the Test side, the situation doesn’t seem to be ideal; but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. Strauss knows better than most the strains of captaining the side in both formats after an Ashes win down under only to be followed with losses in a World Cup campaign to Ireland and Bangladesh before exiting with a whimper in the last 8. Australia has long used the one day game to prepare their test captains and Pakistan seems keen on following suit in the future. Andy Flower runs ‘Team England’ very well and I feel individual players should be able to perform whoever the captain is, given that most strategic decisions are made in consultation with Flowers’ management team; it is increasingly evident how much more of the captains job is done off the field with analysis, planning and team meetings. However it is still important to have a leader on the pitch, someone with a bit of mental agility and perspicacity as well as a player who has the full respect and support of the players.
Strauss has said of the idea “we strive to be to the top ranked team in world cricket. There is still a long way to go for us in one day cricket and this is the perfect opportunity for someone new to take up the challenge.’’
That is certainly true in theory, but it remains to be seen whether in practice it actually works.