Monday, 28 March 2011

England's Captaincy Conundrum

I awoke this morning to see a barrage of tweets about how Stuart Broad would be an awful England ODI captain, and should never be given the proverbial armband should Strauss step down / get booted out. After rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I saw the article that's prompted all of the hoo-hah, as Michael Vaughan "backs Broad for ODI captain" (which, incidentally, has mispelt Alastair Cook's name - not a great show from the Beeb), who thinks that if Strauss is given the proverbial heave ho from the ODI captaincy, then Broad is the man to replace him. I'm not sure if I agree with Virge, so let's have a look at the potential candidates should Strauss (as now expected) hands over the ODI reigns.

Stuart Broad

Broad's case for inclusion is made fairly well by Vaughan - he's passionate, fiery, and has time on his side to really shape this England team going forward. However, Broad is prone to often overstepping the mark thanks to his temper, which may not be the best example for a captain to be setting for his team (although, Ricky Ponting's been doing it for years). However, it could be seen that the captaincy is "the making of Broad" - forcing him to really watch his behaviour and channel his anger into taking wickets rather than having strops. Choosing Broad would be a surprise decision, and it could be a great success over the next few years. However, if he starts throwing his toys out the pram, his captaincy could be a disaster.

Alastair Cook

It's not even worth starting a sentence about Alastair Cook and captaincy without using the acronym FEC. But that's the term he's had to cope with all of his career, and given he was the man chosen to lead last year's tour of Bangladesh, the powers that be evidently see him as a future leader of England. (The cricket team, although if his post Ashes popularity continues, it could quite well be of the country). His tactical and mental credentials are sound enough, but the only drawback for Cook is that he hasn't been in the ODI team at all over the past two years, which would make it very difficult for him to walk straight back in as captain. While England do have form of shoehorning captains straight back into the team (see Strauss in 2009) Cook hasn't been playing ODIs for a reason, and the selectors need to decide whether weakening the team with a specialist captain is going to be more successful than giving the captaincy to someone less suited but a regular fixture.

Graeme Swann

Swann has probably been the fans choice (or, at least this fan's choice), and would obviously love to do it. His enthusiasm would rub off on the players, and we've seen by the way that he sets his own fields that he clearly has a very switched on cricket brain. However, the only downside is that he may not take the captaincy seriously enough - or if he did, that his "buffoonery" would be stunted. A Swann without the Sprinkler? The captaincy may be a burden which could make Swanny lose his mojo, and while he would be great fun as captain, I'd prefer to see him make jokes and take wickets to keeping straight faced under pressure from the ECB and not bowl as well.

Jimmy Anderson

While he missed the last few games of the World Cup, Anderson will still feel like a regular fixture in this England side, and given his reported displeasure at being passed over in favour of Cook for the Bangladesh captaincy last year, clearly fancies himself. (As captain). Jim would certainly have the respect of the dressing room as well as potentially being inspirational in the field, but what could hold him back immediately is that he is no longer 100% guaranteed of his place in the side. If he was given those assurances, he'd certainly be one of the leading candidates, as he does tick a lot of boxes.

Ian Bell

Bell has really grown leaps and bounds in maturity over the past 18 months, and seemed to have been given much more responsibility from Cap'n Strauss this World Cup. After being in the international arena for a good 6 or so years, Bell has progressed into becoming a senior player, and he also has the advantage of having time on his side, as he is still only 28. Bell's got a great track record - having steered Warwickshire to a CB40 win last year, and would get my vote to replace Strauss as ODI captain.

Rob Key

OK, this isn't going to happen - but why not? If England were going to bring in Cook as a specialist captain, why not forget him and go straight to the top, and get Big Keysy back. Just a thought.

Paul Collingwood

If Colly was five years younger and still churning out the runs, then yes. But surely his international career is over? However, Durham Paul is still England's T20 captain, so would be in the hat at least. But if chosen as captain, England would be making a long term committment to Colly, and long term are words which wouldn't suit Collingwood at all. He had his chance as ODI captain, and won't be called for again.

Andrew Strauss

Technically Strauss still is ODI captain, and given the success he's had over the past two years as England captain, it's not beyond the realms of improbability that the selectors write off the World Cup as "one of those things" and back Strauss to lead going forward. Whether Strauss wants to lead is another question, but he's certainly not disgraced himself since taking over, and could still be England captain when they next take to the field.

So there you have it. My head says Bell, my heart says Swann, but my belly says Rob Key. Thoughts?

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