On the Front Foot: Choice of new captain is right but Cowdrey was wrong way

England's new captain has already led England more often than his predecessor. Andrew Strauss, it may be recalled, was in charge for four Tests against Pakistan in 2006 and for one against West Indies in 2007. In the first instance he was a substitute for a substitute, filling in for Andrew Flintoff, who himself was filling in for Michael Vaughan. In the second he was filling in for Vaughan, whose comeback after knee surgery was delayed by another injury, Flintoff's services having been dispensed with after the 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia. Strauss's five matches at the helm already make him the joint 43rd most frequent captain of the Test side. Assuming (and let us all hope) that he safely navigates England through the next 11 Test matches (six against West Indies, five against Australia) he will move into joint 20th with Bob Wyatt. Kevin Pietersen, who resigned on Thursday after three matches, becomes one of the shortest- lived official captains. But not the shortest. In 1988, Christopher Cowdrey was appointed to lead England in the Fourth Test against West Indies. The job was given to him by his godfather, Peter May, who was then chairman of selectors, and Cowdrey's illustrious father, Colin, drove the wrong way up a one-way street on hearing the news.

One day at a time, skipper

It was appropriate that Strauss should also be appointed as one-day captain for the West Indies tour, though it took 24 hours for the selectors to confirm. As the national selector, Geoff Miller, said, it was the only course to take given the circumstances. Not that his previous record as one-day captain is much to write home about. Of the 13 matches in which he led England in 2006, they won four and rather infamously lost all five that summer toSri Lanka.

Respect is key, not Waugh

When somebody as earnestly sagacious as Steve Waugh speaks, perhaps we ought to listen. Opining like everyone else on the imbroglio of last week, he said of the captain-coach relationship: "You don't have to like each other but you've got to respect each other. It's not always going to be the case that your personalities are well suited, but you've got to learn to work together." And on whether Kevin Pietersen should have just got on with it, he said: "Yeah, I think so. It didn't look a terrible situation. It doestake a while to work with someone." Wise words, on the website laureus.com, from somebody whose spell as captain coincided with the cerebral John Buchanan as coach. Buchanan was generally scoffed at by Shane Warne, but the real point was that Australia kept winning matches.

Not all right, Jack

The past, it is good to see, still dominates cricket. Rose-tinted spectacles there may still be, but in an ICC poll seeking nominations for the best opening batsman of all time, Len Hutton has so far garnered 43 per cent of the vote, which is well ahead of Sunil Gavaskar, whom you might have expected to dominate considering his status in India. But what, no place for Jack Hobbs?

s.brenkley@independent.co.uk

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