Thursday, May 05, 2011

Play up, play up and play the game


And so the England management decides that one Public Schoolboy captain isn’t enough and they appoint three. The split between Limited Overs and Test Captaincy makes sense only in the context of crowded fixture lists and the giving of respite to the Captain. Strauss discharged his duties admirably in the absurdly overlong One Day series in Australia and in the grotesquely protracted Cricket World Cup after it. What damage to his mind and his family there was from this only he will know – and perhaps Andy Flower. I think that Strauss’s retirement from One Day Internationals is highly regrettable – he can play the game well. Cook is also a one day player of talent but was omitted from the arduous post- Ashes one day games. Lucky him because that decision has ironically brought him the captaincy.

The splitting of Twenty20 and ODI captaincy makes no sense at all. The formats are sufficiently similar for the special tactical nous of the One Day Captain (if there is one) being equally applicable in the T20 area. And there aren’t very many T20 matches anyway – so if Cook is the right person for One Day Internationals there is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t also captain the T20 side.

With Collingwood’s departure from the scene England has now chosen a trio of men who learned their cricket in Independent schools and whose social background is identical. Maybe that is the background that the blinkered honchos of the ECB, headed by Old Rugbeian Giles Clarke, see as being desirable in a leader. There is also clearly now a hierarchy involved with Test match cricket at the top, ODIs next and T20 as the “apprenticeship” format. This is nonsense as well. In an ideal world the same man – and the best captain – should be England captain in all formats.

If you can play you can play – and if you can lead you can lead. As Geoff Miller put it back in 2008 when Kevin Pietersen was appointed: “In choosing a new captain, we were keen to identify a player who could lead the team in all three forms of cricket and bring fresh enthusiasm and ideas to the role of captain.” Miller was right then and the 180 degree swing away from that now is wrong – workload aside.