Strauss to lead England until Flintoff returns

The England selectors surreptitiously named Andrew Flintoff as their Ashes captain yesterday when they invited Andrew Strauss to lead the side in next week's first Test against Pakistan. Strauss will captain England in a Test match for the first time at Lord's on 13 July, but his assignment is only temporary. Flintoff will take charge as soon as he has recovered from the ankle injury that kept him out of the recent NatWest one-day series.

Flintoff and Strauss would both make way for Michael Vaughan if the official England captain made a miraculous recovery from the knee injury that threatens his career, but the likelihood of this happening is extremely slim. Vaughan had surgery on his degenerative right knee on Monday and he is expected to be out for between four and six months, giving him little chance of being fit for 5 November, the day England leave for Australia.

"Andrew Flintoff will have his ankle re-assessed and we will have a clearer idea then of when he will be able to take over the captaincy," said David Graveney, the chairman of selectors. "We are fortunate to have a very capable deputy available in Andrew Strauss." The uncertainty surrounding Vaughan and his unavailability since the winter tour of Pakistan has had a debilitating effect on the England team. They have had four captains - Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Flintoff and Strauss - since regaining the Ashes in 2005, a period in which they have failed to win any of the six Test or one-day series they have played in.

Vaughan is a wonderful captain, as last summer's Ashes triumph highlighted. He is decisive, imaginative and bold. The status he holds within English cricket makes it impossible for another captain to step in and personalise the set-up.

I have always viewed Strauss, not Flintoff, as Vaughan's long-term successor and, even though he was captain during England's 5-0 one-day thumping by Sri Lanka, this sentiment has not changed. What people seem to forget is that England, with Flintoff as captain, lost four consecutive one-dayers in India three months ago before the big man took a well-deserved rest. It is not poor captaincy that is losing England one-day games of cricket, they are just not very good at it.

Yet, at the same time, I do believe the England selectors are right to make Flintoff captain while the spectre of Vaughan hangs over the side. England, as they were in India when injury tore the side apart, are once again in need of a larger than life figure to and inspire the side to greatness. If England are to have any chance of retaining the Ashes they will need Flintoff to be the colossus he was in 2005. He has made no secret of his desire to captain England and he is bound to be more motivated in Australia if he is captaining the team.

Strauss has never shunned responsibility and the England captaincy will get his full attention whilst Flintoff is away. But now is not the right time for him to take charge. Strauss is not the type of character who can walk in to a room and inspire all those around him. He has many worthy qualities and is respected by all those who know him. He is a thoughtful person who likes to sit down and plan thoroughly. It is the way he approaches his batting and it will be the way he captains. England, however, do not need these qualities now, but they will when Vaughan's reign officially comes to an end.

The last thing Strauss would want to become embroiled in is a leadership challenge with Flintoff, Britain's most popular sportsman. It is a confrontation he could not possibly win, and he is best off biding his time and accepting the situation.

Sri Lanka hit one-day world record

Sri Lanka's incredible one-day form this summer continued in Amstelveen yesterday when they posted a new world record total of 443 for 9 against the Netherlands.

Mahela Jayawardene's side, who beat England 5-0 in the recent NatWest Series, topped the 438 for 9 South Africa chased against Australia in Johannesburg three months ago. Tillekeratne Dilshan hit 117 not out, while Sanath Jayasuriya struck 157 off 104 balls, taking his tally past 300 in his last two innings after his 152 at Headingley on Saturday.

During their run-chase against England at the weekend, Sri Lanka had reached 324 for 2 off 37.3 overs - meaning South Africa's total could have been under threat had they been batting first.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee