16 January 2009

What now for England after the Moores / Pietersen saga?

I think that Vic Marks summed up the current state of the England cricket team perfectly – it’s a mess, but not a terrible mess. Would we all have preferred Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen to have put their problems to one side and agreed to continue working together for England? Probably, yes.

In all serious though, even if they had agreed to continue in their roles, surely it would only have been a matter of time before Pietersen or Moores were unhappy with things again? Had they ‘kissed and made up’ for the West Indies tour, only for their relationship to break down again just before the Ashes – that would have been awful.

So, although the current situation and the circumstance that preceded it were far from perfect, it could have been a lot, lot worse. Believe me. It is now time for English cricket to move forward with Andrew Strauss, starting with a successful tour of the West Indies.

Speaking of Strauss, it has to be said that he was the only choice once Pietersen stepped down. Many have described him as ‘a safe pair of hands’ for the job, but he’s more than just that. His image and personality is more like a traditional England captain than Pietersen and that has probably led to this expression being touted.

There is more to Strauss though – he is an acute tactician, he is respected by all the players, he has succeeded in the role before, he is in form and he has been known to excel with the bat when performing as skipper. So, like I said – he was the only choice when it came to selecting a new captain.

Some cricket odds were favouring Andrew Flintoff for the role, but this would have been a ridiculous decision. Flintoff needs to be left to excel in his role as one of the greatest all-rounders in the game. He is the man that the captain can turn to for something special, not the man to lead the team. There is no way he should have been asked to take on the captaincy as well as batting at number six and being the best bowler in the side.

Another benefit of having Strauss as skipper is that Pietersen can now concentrate on being the best batsman in the side. It has always been said that your best player shouldn’t be the leader and perhaps this belief is relevant for English cricket today. Strauss will open the batting, leading from the front with his star men Flintoff and Pietersen to follow. Perfect.

The only factor that remains uncertain is that of who will succeed Moores. Andy Flower will perform in the role for the West Indies tour and should England put on a decent performance, then he will put his name in the hat for the job on a full-time basis.

Other than that, Tom Moody and Graham Ford appear to be the front runners. Personally I would go with Moody who I feel should have got the job ahead of Moores back in April 2007. Like mentioned though, if England perform well in West Indies, the ECB may well persist with the Strauss / Flower combination.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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