Strauss in line for captain's job over thriving Flintoff
Wednesday 17 January 2007
Andrew Flintoff or Andrew Strauss, who should it be? Michael Vaughan's hamstring injury means that England will need to find a new captain for Friday's one-day encounter against Australia in Brisbane, and in all likelihood for the remainder of the Commonwealth Bank Series.
Mild hamstring strains usually take a minimum of two to three weeks to heal and should the scan on Vaughan's left leg show any damage he will be advised to rest, a decision that will almost certainly rule him out of the rest of the tournament.
The person who takes charge will be leading a team that is deprived of several of its leading players. Injury, illness and family problems have seen Kevin Pietersen, Marcus Trescothick and Ashley Giles return home and Vaughan could follow them.
Continuity, a trait that England like to show, would see Flintoff captain England again. The selectors were loath to criticise the all-rounder at the end of the Ashes whitewash, but it would be wrong to give it back to him.
Flintoff was asked at a press conference whether he would be interested in doing the job again. In attempting to move the questioning on he said: "I've enjoyed my day today." His comments suggested that he did not want a good day spoilt by the subject that has brought him a huge amount of heartache over the past ten weeks.
It is not a coincidence that Flintoff's form and demeanour have improved since the captaincy was taken away from him. There has been freshness about his cricket in the past week that was absent during the Ashes. The shackles have been released and Flintoff is beginning to play the type of cricket that made him a national treasure in 2005.
It was there in Hobart yesterday as he brilliantly guided England to a narrow but deserved victory. He bowled with hostility, skill and energy. He batted with intelligence and discipline during his match-winning innings of 72, too. Vaughan has encouraged Flintoff to have fun and it appears he is. And long may it continue.
The move would leave the position open to Strauss who, to me, has always been Vaughan's long-term successor. Strauss has a similar approach as Vaughan and would ensure that England's current planning and strategy would continue throughout the series. It would also allow England to get the best out of their most important player, something Flintoff was unable to do during the Ashes.
Vaughan should remain in Australia even if the injury prevents him from playing another game because he will captain the team, injury permitting, in the World Cup. There has been a purpose about England's cricket in its last two games and it has much to do with Vaughan. He, along with Duncan Fletcher, has devised the plans that England will use in the World Cup and he should be there to make sure they are adhered to.
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