Letter: Gooch must stay

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The Independent Online
Sir: Graham Gooch, whatever his shortcomings as a captain, has been gracious in acknowledging that England have been thoroughly outplayed by a young, buoyant Indian team. He should not, however, be absolved of much of the blame for England's humiliation: it's clear that he has had a damaging degree of influence in team selection, strategy and tactics, and in moulding attitudes. Temperamentally and culturally, he has shown himself unsuited to the job of captain on a tour of India. But talk of Gooch's removal from the job prior to the series against Australia this summer is premature. His recent batting record against Australia is good, and the Australians would no doubt list him and Gower as the prize batting scalps. A home series is very different from an overseas one. More importantly, though, there is no obvious successor. Alec Stewart, his appointment as captain for the Sri Lanka leg of the tour notwithstanding, is not fit for the job: his shows of petulance on being given out are tiresome, and in refusing to take the gloves when picked as first-choice wicketkeeper, he acted selfishly.

The summer series offers the chance for a happier exit from the Test arena for Gooch, and for the rehabilitation of Gower, Ramprakash and Russell. Having shaken off his bogy, Hick should emerge as England's leading batsman for the future and, given that any combination of Stewart, Fletcher and Gatting at the helm on tour is unhealthy, should be given the chance to be England's next captain. Ted Dexter should resign, but of course he won't.

Yours faithfully,

ADRIAN TAHOURDIN

London N6

24 February

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