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Strauss captaincy questions 'ridiculous' - Vaughan

George Dobell

April 25, 2012

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Andrew Strauss plays towards point, Sri Lanka v England, 2nd Test, P Sara Oval, Colombo, 2nd day, April 4, 2012
England captain Andrew Strauss has the backing of his predecessor Michael Vaughan © AFP
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Michael Vaughan has dismissed talk of dropping Andrew Strauss from England's Test team as "ridiculous" and insisted that his worth as a captain out-weighed any concerns over a lack of runs. While Vaughan, a former England Test captain, accepted that Strauss "needs a big score" and that judged simply as a batsman his place would be in jeopardy, he expressed confidence that Strauss' technique remains up to the task of opening the batting in Test cricket.

Strauss has scored just one century in his last 50 Test innings - and none since November 2010 - and has averaged 26 in the last calendar year, leading to speculation about his position during England's series in Sri Lanka, which was drawn 1-1.

"As a captain, it's ridiculous to talk about Strauss' position," Vaughan told ESPNcricinfo. "You only get better as a captain: tactically and management wise. I'd be a better captain now than I was when I retired. You're more mature. You've seen more situations. And that's what captaincy is: it's a man-management role.

"What Strauss needs now is a score. He needs a big score. He's playing all right: his feet are going quite nicely and I don't see any technical flaws. But he needs to make the starts count.

"He knows that he needs a big score. One hundred in 50 innings he knows that, if he wasn't captain, he would be under serious threat. But there's more to his position in the side when you're the captain. He averages 26, but his average is probably worth in the 40s because of what he brings to the team. If you're just judging someone purely on stats, you forget what they bring to the side. As a captain you bring a lot more to the side than the runs you score on the pitch.

"But there's no question that, in the series against the West Indies, he needs a big score or that problem will get bigger. You can't keep going on as an opening batsman - even if the side are winning.

"The same thing happened to me. In 2008 we went to Lord's to play New Zealand. I'd had a stinker in New Zealand and, though there was no talk of the captaincy, there was talk of my form. I somehow managed to score a hundred. I don't know how - I played terribly to 60 and edged it everywhere - but he might have to play an innings when it looks very ugly. When you're out of form it's a grind, but he somehow has to get three figures in that end column.

"Strauss will know his returns are not great. And he will know when it's time to move on. But at the moment, the time is not right. He'll hope it's in Sydney in 2014 - that will be his dream - but one day he will wake up and say 'I've had enough.'"

Vaughan also expressed a concern over the quality of replacements available in county cricket. While he felt there were several aggressive candidates who could fulfil a role in the middle-order, he was less impressed by the number of top-order batsmen who could see off the new ball in conditions offering encouragement to seam bowlers.

"There is a worry that the batting is not as good as we think it is," Vaughan said. "Strauss would be under more pressure if there was an Alastair Cook waiting in the wings. There are lots of batsmen who could fill roles at five and six, but there aren't many sticking their hands up for one, two or three. That's a concern. Nick Compton has had a good start, but will need to do a lot more. Luke Wells is a quality player. I've seen Carberry; I've seen Chopra. I just don't think we have enough who play old school batting and that is what is required at one, two or three at the minute.

"Ravi Boprara will play against the West Indies, I'm sure of that. Eoin Morgan won't play the first Test. He will have to score a load of runs to get back in the side. England will beat the West Indies 3-0 unless it rains. I just can't see how the West Indies are going to get enough runs against England's bowling attack."

Vaughan was talking at the launch of NatWest's Locals v Legends series. The scheme offers local cricket clubs across England and Wales an opportunity to play a T20 match against a team of England legends captained by Vaughan, with an aim of providing a boost to club funds.

For more information visit www.natwest.com/cricket

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Shan156 on (April 28, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

@5wombats, I agree with most of your points especially about the "comfort zone". Australian grounds can most likely be the worst nightmare for an English cricketer and the pitches are nothing like what one would find in England. Anyone who claims that Australia is England's "comfort zone" is clueless. However, I beg to differ on one point - believe it or not, India has actually won three series in England - 1-0 in 1970/1971, 2-0 in 1986, and, most recently, 1-0 in 2007. Apart from this, they won one test in Headingley in 2002 as part of a drawn series. So, they have won a grand total of 5 tests and lost 26 in England. So, it is still a very poor record considering that India has so many "stars" and England have none (according to Indian fans, of course). But, England and West Indies are the only away countries where India have won 3 test series.

Posted by 5wombats on (April 28, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

@karthik_raja on (April 28 2012, 05:21 AM GMT) You haven't got a CLUE. "I doubt if u hv ever walked into a field". For your information I played grade cricket in the Western Suburbs of Sydney for several seasons. Most probably before you were born. Evidently you do not know the first thing about Australia, Australian conditions or the fearsome way they play their sports. We seriously doubt whether you have any genuine interest in or knowledge of the greatest game. Look at indias last 2 whitewashes - start from there. Even when india had a team full of "stars" it wasn't that good - it never won a series in either SA or Aus and only ever won a series in England once. So much for "great team", so much for "stars". The only people who think indian players are stars are indian. No-one else does. You can discount and excuse indias "performances" if you like - but the rest of the world has noticed and the rest of the world has concluded that basically, india aren't very good. Truth.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 28, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

@karthik_raja - re "barring the recent 2 series, Ind has always done reasonably good" trouble is we're not barring last 2 series and last 2 series are the most relevant for any side - and that incs our own who also had a bad couple of tours. And re "I hope u wont disagree that Eng play against/in Aus more often than against any other nation" Actually we will disagree because it is totally untrue. You or anyone can check the stats yourself. We played Aus 4 in Aus 4 times since 98/99 and India in India 3 times since that time and after our next tour of India we'll have played them the same amount of times in India as we have Aus in Oz. By and large we'll have played teams home and away over the last decade an equal number of times - If you don't believe me check the stats out for yourself.

Posted by karthik_raja on (April 28, 2012, 5:21 GMT)

@5wombats and @A_Vacant_Slip. If u dont know wt is comfort zone for a cricket player, ask a player himself. I doubt if u hv ever walked into a field. Comfort zone is something which a player feels, when he very often plays against same opposition under similar conditions. I hope u wont disagree that Eng play against/in Aus more often than against any other nation. Something similar to Ind-SL ties. India's comfort zone is spinning conditions in subcontinent where Eng failed miserably recently. And they pretty well in their zone. And Mr. @Vacant slip, barring the recent 2 series, Ind has always done reasonably good in "out of comfort areas" like Eng,Aus,NZ,WI,SA in past 10 years or so. U can check ur stats by urself.

Posted by Meety on (April 28, 2012, 1:26 GMT)

Funny how this thread ended up being a gazillion miles away from the topic of the article, ah well! @JG2704 - I note your handle is missing the crucial last 2 or 4 digits LOL! Congrats or commiserations???

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (April 27, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

@karthik_raja - what you say here. Very funny comment about comfort zone. Ha ha! Only India is India comfort zone. The minute India come out of India - they get crushed. Comfort zone. LOL.

Posted by 5wombats on (April 27, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

@karthik_raja on (April 27 2012, 07:38 AM GMT) - so Australia is now a "comfort zone" for England is it? What rubbish. Sorry that the stats for the indian "stars" didn't stack up for you in Australia. They didn't in England either did they? There are still way too many excuses pouring from the keyboards of certain india followers - take them somewhere else.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 27, 2012, 8:36 GMT)

@Lord_Dravid on (April 26 2012, 23:00 PM GMT) No one is saying they are icons or anything. You seem to be coming onto our threads to stir up an argument which is totally unnecessary. ESPN please publish

Posted by JG2704 on (April 27, 2012, 8:33 GMT)

@Shan156 Yes unfortunately I'm a year older today but thanks for good wishes. I'll talk more cricket later. All the best

Posted by zenboomerang on (April 27, 2012, 7:42 GMT)

@SLAZV600 :- "This may have more to do with the fact you were much better than all teams for a long period than through ruthless declarations"... Do you mean the last 130 years?... You are probably right... But who is "us?"... India, South Africa, England?... Or do you mean a combined World XI v Oz?... Neither Dhoni, Smith or Strauss have been aggressive in their declarations in the last few years, even when well on top... Where as Oz's last 4 captains have all riskily declared on more than 1 occassion each to get a result rather than bat out for the draw... Again, I feel you have zero knowledge on Oz cricket or our nations attitudes as it goes way deeper than just sport...

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