Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Too many Cooks...

So The Sun have leaked the news which we expect to hear officially tomorrow - that Alastair Cook will be named as England's new ODI captain. This is a bit of a pain.

Basically, the story states how Andrew Strauss will step aside from ODIs in order to spend more time with the family and allow him to prolong his test captaincy, which isn't much of a shock. English ODI cricket is always geared towards the next World Cup, and Strauss knows that he won't be a part of the next World Cup. So he's prepared to step aside in an arrangement that suits him, as it gives him more time with his young family, and it suits the team, as it allows them to give a new captain plenty of chance to gain experience and be able to mould the side. This part of the story isn't an issue for me.

But Cook getting the nod would be. Yes, everything about Cook screams "England Captain Material", but quite simply, he hasn't been in the ODI team, and as such, shouldn't be named as ODI captain. Cook wasn't named in the World Cup squad, or even the squads for series against Australia, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Australia again. The selectors quite clearly think there are better ODI players than Alastair Cook and rightly or wrongly (almost certainly wrongly considering Luke Wright is one of the players who they felt was better) if Cook wasn't good enough last month, why would he suddenly be considered good enough this?

It's not as though England are lacking potential candidates from players already in the ODI side. My choice, Ian Bell, has grown huge amounts in maturity, and has captained very successfully at county level with Warwickshire. Kevin Pietersen, as murkily as it all transpired to be last time, is very astute and beat South Africa 4-0 in his only home ODI series. Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann are all very tactically aware, and captaincy could bring out the best in them. Mick Yardy is one of county cricket's most respected skippers. So there's hardly any shortage of candidates of players who have regularly been part of the ODI team. So why look to bring in a player who previously wasn't considered good enough?

OK, I know there's a very large elephant in the room - namely the appointment in 2009 of Andrew Strauss as England's captain across the boards when he hadn't played ODIs for 2 years. But Strauss took over as captain at a time of turmoil in English cricket, and it was imperative that there was as much stability as possible at the top. This quite clearly is no longer the case, and a specialist captain rather than a member of the ODI team who could take over is no longer feasible. Rightly or wrongly, Cook wasn't deemed good enough to play as a batsman previously, and if the selectors are sticking to their original decisions, they're effectively weakening the team in order to shoehorn in a captain.

Cook would probably have replaced Andrew Strauss with the retirement of Strauss in any case, but to pick a man who's position in the team would be under question isn't the way forward. What if Cook struggles for runs in his first few series? Would he still be kept in if he's not pulling his weight in the team, just because he's captain? Cook will one day lead England in test cricket, and will no doubt be an excellent leader for us, but at this time he probably isn't the right appointment for the ODI leadership.

And don't even get me started on the apparent decision to keep Paul Collingwood as T20 captain...

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