Stephen Brenkley: Strauss starts the game of musical chairs

Who opens? Vaughan at four? Does Giles play? Or Collingwood? Questions galore for Lord's winners

Such an innocuous incident, such immense consequences. Not quite to be rated alongside what happened when the horse shed a shoe and the next thing you knew the whole kingdom was up the creek, but significant for English cricket none the less.

As a result, one batsman has retired, another has embarked on what might be an illustrious career, another has been deprived of one possibly forever and yet another may make a significant move in the batting order, if not for that long, then for the foreseeable future. More may become clear today when the squad is announced for the Second Test against New Zealand, and more still on Thursday when the game at Headingley starts.

There will be no Nasser Hussain, who with characteristic, pumped-up emotion called it a day after his heroic innings at Lord's that had secured an epic opening game of the series for England. There will be, obviously, Andrew Strauss, Man of the Match on his debut for scores of 112 and 83, the second of which was ended only by Hussain's crass call for a run.

There will probably, but may not, be Paul Collingwood, centrally contracted to general surprise but whose chance may now have come and gone, although he has had little chance to do anything wrong. Perhaps above all, there will be Michael Vaughan returning as captain, but maybe not in the opening position where he made his name and became, albeit briefly, the No 1 ranked batsman in the world.

Thus was the course of English cricket changed by an unsung 19-year-old spinner called Zac Taylor. Brought in specially to the England nets at Lord's, Taylor was bowling when Vaughan stretched to play a sweep and twisted his knee. It put Vaughan out of the Test.

Since an opener was wanted, the selectors ignored Collingwood, who was in the squad, and sent for Strauss, who was not. On seeing Strauss perform with such unfussy crispness, Hussain's mind, already cluttered with thoughts of retirement, was made up.

But it leaves the No 4 position vacant. Since Strauss is an opener, and is happiest playing there, it apparently provides an opportunity for Vaughan to move from opener. The grounds for doing this are that Vaughan is the side's best batsman and is therefore better off in the middle order, and has struggled with the combination of opening and being captain.

Statistics indeed show that Vaughan was averaging above 50 before assuming the captaincy and that figure has plummeted to 33 since. Statistics also show that in his first incarnation as an England player, he batted at four and had an average of 26. Make the figures fit any way you will.

The argument about having a side's best player at four is fairly spurious. Did not Vaughan start there when patently he was not the side's best player? Has not Hussain occupied the position for long enough when, gritty though he has been, it would have been difficult to make a case for him as the leading batsman?

Equally, an argument can be made for not having Marcus Trescothick and Strauss as the opening pair. Two left-handers together make it easier for the bowlers to adjust, notwithstanding the 190 the pair shared at Lord's on their first appearance. It might have become a fad to have a left-right combination, as opposed, say, to simply having your best opening batsmen, but it is based on a sound principle.

One way round the conundrum would be to move Trescothick. It was being openly discussed late last summer when Trescothick was continuing to get out to the new ball, usually caught napping outside the off stump and edging behind. But he responded to this by scoring a dominating double century at The Oval, which was as notable for its rigorous self-denial as its array of bludgeoning attacking strokes. However, Trescothick still tends to give a chance to new-ball bowlers that other opening batsmen do not.

In all this, poor Collingwood may be swept away. He is an admirable cricketer and has understandably impressed the England coach, Duncan Fletcher, who admires his dedication and willingness to learn. On his two appearances in the Test arena so far, Collingwood played with typical sturdiness.

But compare him, say, to Key, who is interviewed below. Not only does he not have that indefinable touch of class that Key has always exuded (call it time to play, if you will), but also he is not in the same form as Key.

Unless Fletcher is sure that he can help to turn Collingwood into a genuine Test middle-order player, it could be argued that he and the selectors would be wasting valuable time. On the other hand, maybe the devoted Durham lad deserves to be given a go.

It may come if the decision is taken to drop Ashley Giles, the side's specialist spinner. In the formative stages at Lord's, Giles was awful and expensive to the extent that he looked on his way out. He came back, as if he knew his international future was on the line. Giles may stay for now. It is not his fault that he remains England's best spinner. By and large he has made the most of what he has, but he knows that it is a reflection on the state of the art here that he remains No 1.

Still, this is nothing new. Rose-tinted spectacles tend to hark back to the era of John Emburey and Phil Edmonds as though it was a vintage age. Emburey took 147 wickets in 64 matches at 38.40, Edmonds 125 in 51 in 34.18. Not world-beating figures. Giles has 88 at 40.66. Worse but not that much worse.

The result of the result at Lord's is that England's side this summer may change more than anybody would have thought likely or possible.

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Arts and Entertainment
L to R: Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) & Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in Avengers Assemble
film
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Sport
Tim Sherwood raises his hand after the 1-0 victory over Stoke
footballFormer Tottenham boss leads list of candidates to replace Neil Warnock
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
News
Danielle George is both science professor and presenter
people
News
i100
News
Caplan says of Jacobs: 'She is a very collaborative director, and gives actors a lot of freedom. She makes things happen.'
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015