On the Front Foot: Strauss is needed as an administrator not a broadcaster
Where have all the captains gone? Gone to be pundits every one. Long time passing. What the England captain does after he has left the job, is always what fascinates after the plaudits have been paid.
So it is with Andrew Strauss, who will be remembered as one of the most accomplished of all 79 men who have led England in a Test match, from Gubby Allen to Norman Yardley in alphabetical order and James Lillywhite to Alastair Cook in chronological sequence.
Suggestions that Strauss will stand as the Conservative candidate in the imminent Corby by-election can be taken as fanciful. True, he donated a golf day at a party fundraiser last year, but that was hardly an application to take to the hustings.
Over the years it has become almost de rigueur to take up a role in the media. Of the 24 men officially appointed as captain since Len Hutton retired, 11 have become cricket writers or broadcasters. Eight still grace our airwaves regularly.
Few have found other roles in the game, though Ted Dexter and Ray Illingworth were pundits and then became chairman of selectors. Colin Cowdrey became an ICC bigwig, Graham Gooch is the England batting coach, Mike Gatting works for the ECB, Mike Brearley became a psychotherapist and is still, though he now also chairs MCC's world cricket committee.
The lure of the microphone is obvious, but international cricket also needs former international cricketers at its hub. Less glamorous (and financially rewarding) though it may be, the future of the game depends partly on insiders' expertise and insight. With his booming, articulate voice Strauss could easily find a place in a commentary box. But he has strong opinions about how the great game should be run. When the dust has settled, it would be wonderful to see him help lead there as he led the England team.
Pakistan in spin over Ajmal omission
There has been a kerfuffle about the nominations for the Test cricketer of the year. Pakistan are miffed that Saeed Ajmal has not made the shortlist of three, after taking 72 wickets in the qualifying period at 24.29 each, and are threatening to boycott the awards. They smell corruption. The ICC point out that the procedure for making the awards is strictly audited after a shortlist is voted on by "an academy of 32 highly credentialed cricket personalities from around the world".
As one of the panel, it is easy to confirm that nobody tried to influence my vote. As it happens, the nominations from this direction contained Ajmal's name, along with those of Michael Clark and Kumar Sangakkara, who made the shortlist. Ajmal lost out to Vernon Philander, who had an amazing start to his career. It is a matter of judgement and OTFF disagrees with his fellow panellists.
A few choice words
Talking of shortlists, nominations are out for the Cricket Writers' Club book of the year. It is an eclectic mix, featuring a history of Australia, a highly personal memoir about being a cricketer's father, the intriguing story of England's rise and corking biographies of Tony Greig and Fred Trueman. They show that, while all book sales are plummeting, cricketing literature remains of high quality.
Amla drops into top spot
Hashim Amla is unquestionably the cricketer of the summer. But how thin is the line between success and failure. Before yesterday he had scored 817 international runs at an average of 116.71. England dropped him six times at a cost of 539 runs – so it could have been 278 at 39.71.
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