Thursday, 8 January 2009

Strauss can end England's dependency culture

Well, what to make of that then? Just with Australia finally displaying major signs of weakness, English cricket slumped into a fresh bout of crisis. The twin departues of Messrs Moores and Pietersen were truly embarrassing. Pietersen clearly deserves the vast majority of the blame - though perhaps not so much for his complaints against Moores as the manner in which they were made so public.

Moores is hardly a great loss as coach. And Pietersen, somewhat tactically naive - as even he himself acknowleged - clearly suffered from a complete lack of captaincy experience. Had he continued to be captain, it would have been intriguing to see how his style developed. He does undeniably have a brilliant and instinctive cricketing mind, but the manner in which he sought to advance his favourites - none more so than Michael Vaughan - at the expense of true meritocracy left an uncomfortable taste.

England have not lost a great captain or great coach. Whether they lose a batsman of rare brilliance will determine the ultimate damage from the affair. But if, somehow, Pietersen slips into the ranks as unobtrusively as his character will allow, and the forthcoming Ashes serves to galvanise the squad and make them forget past frictions, then England may yet come out of the whole affair rather well.

No one can argue with the appointment of Andrew Strauss as captain. Intelligent, articulate, calm, experienced and with a resilient temperament that has allowed him to respond admirably to being dropped 15 months ago, he would never be caught in such an ugly public spat. He has been called the archetypal 'safe pair of hands' - actually he is a highly-regarded tactician and a self-assured leader. His quiet determination will allow no one an easy ride; and ensure a meritocracy in team selection that has been conspicious for its absence of late.

Together with Andy Flower (whose appointment as temporary coach only needs to be rubber-stamped) Strauss can offer England something much overdue. Ludicrously overburdened with backroom support staff, England have been big on talk and short on action. Superficially they are the most 'professional' side England have ever possessed. But what is needed, above all, is a more understated approach. Players must take responsbility for their own actions and end the unhealthy dependency culture that has spread within Team England.


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