Ed Aarons: It may be time for Paul Downton to take the Broad view

 

What a fine mess English cricket finds itself in. Yet for supporters of a certain age, the last two months in Australia have just been a return to normal service.

Growing up in the 1990s, it became customary to suffer the humiliation of yet another heavy defeat. But while a succession of captains from Graham Gooch to Michael Atherton, Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain tried and failed to break the antipodean hegemony, at least there always seemed to be another willing victim ready to step into the breach.

This time, however, things are different. That Alastair Cook was the man to succeed Andrew Strauss after his retirement during the series defeat to South Africa in 2012 was as obvious as saying Kevin Pietersen has a bit of a selfish streak.

English cricket’s golden boy had always been earmarked as a captain-in-waiting. But his admission that he is considering his position in the aftermath of an eighth successive defeat on this most disastrous of all tours suddenly begs the question: who else is there should Cook give up the Test captaincy?

Even the bookmakers have been caught on the hop. Ian Bell would perhaps be many people’s favourites, given his vast experience over the last decade, but even he cannot be assured of his place in the team in the long term.

 

With the rest of the top six in the Test team in disarray and question marks over vice-captain Matt Prior’s future, the only viable alternative to Cook appears to be Stuart Broad. He will lead England at the Twenty20 World Cup in March and has made a decent fist of his first captaincy role since succeeding Paul Collingwood nearly two years ago.

But it’s been nearly 20 years since Bob Willis became the last bowler to captain England in a Test series and it remains to be seen whether the ECB’s new managing director Paul Downton is prepared to go against tradition.

 

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