Marcus Trescothick will become England's 75th Test captain at 10.30 this morning following the failure of Michael Vaughan to prove his fitness for the first npower Test against New Zealand. Walking out at Lord's the Somerset opener will be hoping the transfer of power appears seamless to his team-mates and that England continue in their winning ways.
Unfortunately, history does not sit on Trescothick's side. Caretaker captains have had a miserable time during their short periods in charge. On eight of the last 10 occasions England have been deprived of their full-time captain they have lost. During this period only Alec Stewart, who led England to a narrow victory over the West Indies at Lord's in 2000, was able to hand the reins back with a tick in the win column.
Stephen Fleming, Trescothick's opposite number, is regarded by many as the best captain in the world and he will be aiming to exploit the problems caused by Vaughan's twisted right knee. "It has got to be a disadvantage to lose your captain," said Fleming at Lord's yesterday. "England have played well under Michael and whilst he has been in charge they have developed patterns of play, and sometimes when you change these patterns it can have a disjointing affect. It is up to them to get their systems right under a new captain and this can often be hard.
"It is also hard to come in in a caretaker role. He knows that Vaughny is going to come back in and you do not have time to stamp your own authority on the team when you are caretaking the systems that he has put in place. We will also be interested in how the extra pressure will affect his batting."
Trescothick is aware of Fleming's pedigree but he is determined not to let it affect him on his big day. The 28-year-old has captained England in two one-day internationals - both of which England won - but he is aware that this will be a true test of his credentials as a captain.
"It is a huge honour for me to captain England at the home of cricket," Trescothick said. "Fleming is thought of as one of the best captains in the world but that does not bother me. I realise that things will be different here but I do not see the captaincy affecting my batting. It hasn't in the past when I have captained England or Somerset. We know there is a lot of expectation because a lot of people enjoyed the winter and we created a big impression on people back here. New Zealand may target me but these are the sort of things that happen in Test cricket whether you are the captain, the opening bowler or the opening batsman."
The absence of Vaughan looks set to give Andrew Strauss his Test debut. In Mark Butcher England have a player who has opened the batting in Test cricket but moving him up the order would be unwise.
England should not worry about bringing Strauss into the side. The Middlesex captain is in prime form and will benefit from his first Test being played at his home ground. The Lord's pitch should meet with his approval. It has not rained in London for more than a week and the pitch is flat, dry and hard. Mick Hunt, the groundsman, admitted that the pitch is a day ahead of schedule - but it is better to be like this than green and damp.
These conditions will encourage England to play Ashley Giles in a balanced attack. Slow bowlers have had very little success at Lord's since the pitches were relaid in the 1990s and Mushtaq Ahmed, the Pakistani leg-spinner, was the last to take a five-wicket haul here, in 1996. To find an English bowler with such analysis one has to go back to 1991 when Philip Tufnell took 5 for 94 against Sri Lanka.
The final fast-bowling place will be the hardest for England to decide. Form suggests the selectors should pick James Anderson ahead of Simon Jones, but the pitch may force them to reconsider. If the weather pointed to the ball swinging, Anderson would be a shoo-in. But if the forecast is good this might encourage the selectors to stick with Jones. The Glamorgan fast bowler can be wayward but his extra pace may save him.
New Zealand, who picked their starting XI on Monday, have no such decisions to make. The balance of their side is almost identical to that of England's. They have not lost to England at Lord's for 21 years but everything points to a close and intriguing series.
ENGLAND (First Test v New Zealand, Lord's) (from): *M E Trescothick, A J Strauss, M A Butcher, P D Collingwood, N Hussain, G P Thorpe, A Flintoff, ÝG O Jones, A F Giles, S P Jones, S J Harmison, M J Hoggard, J M Anderson.
NEW ZEALAND: *S P Fleming, M H Richardson, N J Astle, S B Styris, C D McMillan, ÝB B McCullum, C L Cairns, J D P Oram, D L Vettori, D R Tuffey, C S Martin.
Umpires: D J Harper (Aus) and R Koertzen (SA).Reuse content