Thursday, 6 September 2012

Replacing the skipper: The contenders to replace Andrew Strauss

To some, Andrew Strauss' retirement from all forms of cricket will come as a surprise, to others, it was a mere formality. The great leader and rejuvinator of English cricket has fought a long-serving cause to make England the best in the world. He achieved that feat, and as the captain. Strauss was a bastion of the game in which the sheer pride of the stereotypical Englishmen shone out in their thousands. 
His career in the game was one to admire, and his discipline on and off the field was a mere testament to how serious Strauss took his cricket. He was a winner, but a winner built on the success and improvement of the people around him.
The main question for coach Andy Flower and the ECB selectors now is....who should replace him as Alastair Cook's opening partner?
Many names have been thrown into the hat already but there are five players who really stand out. With Strauss's departure, along with doubts over Kevin Pietersen's international future, the time has come for England to build a future.

Joe Root
The 21-year-old Yorkshire prospect really has established himself as one of the Carnegie's main talents in the side this season. His career best 222* against Hampshire in July 2012 is a fine example of the talent Root truly possesses. Not only in the long form of the game but in the short-form, Root has proven to be a crucial cog in the Yorkshire machinery under disciplined coach Jason Gillespie. His part-time spin also proves to be a useful addition to their squad, and could his all-round abilities be what England need? Is Root ready for England? Yes he is but many may question his age and his inexperience. But England need a new era, and what a perfect time to install a player so young alongside the likes of Jonny Bairstow and James Taylor   for England. 

Sam Northeast
The Kent youngster had a hard start to the season being forced out of the side and dumped in the second XI, but his attitude and determination has proven to be a really force for Kent in all forms on the domestic scene this summer. Northeast is another young talent who really has the potential to go far, but it's rare to find a cricketer from Kent truly establish himself in the England squad. The most recent examples would be Geraint Jones who was part of that successful Ashes 2005 Test team, and Rob Key. James Tredwell has had glimpses in both the test and one-day side, but with Graeme Swann in the mould, it's hard to dislodge one of England's best ever spinners. Northeast should certainly be in the frame, but the selectors may want to see more from him on the county scene in the next year or two before making the move to include him in the squad.

Michael Carberry
Not one my ideal choices, but Carberry certainly is major contender to replace Strauss. Questions may be raised over his past illnesses and injuries, but the talent the Hampshire batsman holds is one similar to South Africa's Hashim Amla. Able to block out every ball, but with the pure power to be ever-so destructive. His batting style would certainly suit the rest of the players in the side, so it's impossible to write off Carberry, but the issue of fitness in a tough Andy Flower camp could be the tip of the iceberg for the Hampshire man. 

Jonathan Trott
Is he capable of opening, or is he better suited to the number three role? For me, number three is the best spot to have somebody of Trott's talents, but then it could be argued more stability and responsibility at the top could prove to be a superb spine of and England innings. Everybody knows the ability he holds within, and the number three spot is one he has made his own. Although the idea of Trott opening could prove successful, who would be the man to develop to become the new Trott at number three? 

Ian Bell
Again another established player in the England side, but with a look to the future, should England be looking to invest in a young star to be the new Andrew Strauss? Bell has opened before, and will open again, but having the talent of the Warwickshire man in the middle order is a valuable asset to the backbone of the batting order. His ability and focus is undeniable on the international scene, but is Bell too settled in that middle order, that a move to the top of the batting could destroy his form and hence destroy of the confidence of one of England's most stubborn stallions? My answer would be yes, but don't right off the idea of Bell to partner new captain Cook.