5 May 2007

England Captaincy Candidates

No beating around the bush here. If Michael Vaughan isn't fit for the 1st Test I'd ask Paul Collingwood to captain the team. Here's a look at all - and I mean all - the possible candidates:

Andrew Flintoff - Let's be clear, England's problem in the winter did not stem from Flintoff - they came from several players all underperforming at the same time. But Flintoff looked like a captaincy novice, much like he did in the drawn Lords test against Sri Lanka last year, failing to attack at obvious times. His handling of Monty Panesar left a lot to be desired. Much better as part of the team busting a gut for an alternative captain.

Andrew Strauss - Lacked imagination when captain last summer and possibly too much of a nice guy. Needs to focus on getting back into form and consolidating his position in the side.

Kevin Pietersen - Rather too concerned with his own image, would he take it personally if England lose, resulting in a slump in his personal performance? Gut reaction says yes, and England should avoid a repeat of the Flintoff mistake where they tried to make a talismanic figure captain without considering tactical nouse.

Alastair Cook - The young buck amongst the contenders and undoubtedly a possible FEC. He was apparently totally self assured in the England dressing room, right from his debut, happy to give his views on tactics. But he is still young and finding his feet and it would be a wrong move to burden him with the captaincy this early in his international career.

Paul Nixon - Reaching the end of his career, so would be seen as a short-term fix. Ironically, his greatest strength as a player is a weakness when it comes to potentially making him captain himself - he acts as an excellent advisor to the captain in the field.

Matthew Hoggard - the dark horse. Hoggard has become more and more adept at handling the media with his dry sense of humour and down to earth Yorkshireness. A consistent performer who's wholehearted efforts inspire the rest of the team, Hoggard was seen to be consoling and motivating his skipper, Flintoff, in the field on the final day of the Adelaide Test which England contrived to lose. An unlikely candidate but one not to be overlooked entirely.

Paul Collingwood - The consummate professional who now commands a place in both the Test and ODI sides. While he doesn't have as much natural talent as a Pietersen, he works hard at his game, constantly striving to improve - just the attitide England need from their skipper. His tactical nouse is yet to be proved, he will never take a backward step as his verbal sparring with Shane Warne in the Ashes series showed, and the rest of the team look to him as the example to follow, both on and off the field.

Cricket Burble captaincy choice: Paul Collingwood
Cricket Burble dark horse: Matthew Hoggard

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