England v West Indies, ODI series June 21, 2007

New-look England set to be unveiled



Paul Collingwood: set for the captaincy hot seat © Getty Images
The shape of England's one-day future will become clearer on Friday when the squad for the two Twenty20 Internationals and three-match ODI series against West Indies is named. Top of the agenda is a new captain, following Michael Vaughan's decision to stand down from the one-day role, and heading the race is Paul Collingwood, especially now Kevin Pietersen has ruled himself out.

England have been along the route of split captains twice before; Michael Atherton and Adam Hollioake shared the job in 1997-98 - a period where England won a rare one-day trophy in Sharjah - then Vaughan and Nasser Hussain went 50-50 in 2003. That latter experiment lasted two series before Hussain felt he couldn't continue as Test captain and Vaughan took full control. This week Vaughan admitted that he risks a similar fate, but it's unlikely given the relative health of England's Test side and that, in his own words, Vaughan is a 'fairly chilled' person.

However, to judge by the tone of England's coach, Peter Moores, the split captaincy is not the ideal scenario. "I think in an ideal world we all wanted one captain going through both Test and one-day cricket," said Moores, "but life isn't always ideal and you adapt and adjust to make sure it's right. It's a bit of a fresh start so it's a chance for us to take that and make the most of it."

Without doubt the new captain will be worth his place in the one-day side, something that wasn't always the case with Vaughan. Collingwood has become an integral part of the middle order, where he can either build on a solid platform with his sharp running and eye for the gap or, more often, rebuild following an early collapse. His century in the first CB Series final in Australia was one of England's finest one-day innings. Another advantage is that Collingwood is England's best fielder and can lead from the front in an area where Vaughan became increasingly shaky.

Whoever is handed the captaincy is set to have a few new faces in the ranks after England's debacle at the World Cup. Injury has ruled out Andrew Flintoff and Ravi Bopara so an allrounder is required in the middle order. Alex Gidman has been handed his chance for the England Lions and is probably fighting with Dimitri Mascarenhas for a slot.

Michael Yardy's inclusion for the Lions shows the selectors are keen to have another look at him following a brief foray into the ODI scene late last summer and during the Champions Trophy. He has missed a large chunk of the season because of a broken finger picked up playing for MCC in April, but there is a place up for grabs. Alex Loudon's duck in the Friends Provident semi-final against Hampshire was bad timing as his aggressive batting had set tongues wagging this summer.

With the side needing a completely clean break from Vaughan, and Andrew Strauss out of touch, the top order will have a reshuffle. Alastair Cook is due another chance in coloured clothing, after two matches against Sri Lanka last year, and Matt Prior is the ideal man to use the fielding restrictions now he's tasted success at the top level.

The bowling poses plenty of questions without the consistency of Flintoff to call upon. Ryan Sidebottom has done more than enough to add to his two one-day caps, while James Anderson has reportedly begun to find his rhythm for Lancashire. On his day Anderson can be extremely destructive with the white ball.

Liam Plunkett put in a late bid to retain his place by guiding Durham to Lord's, but Moores has already shown he values time in the county game. Plunkett is better off working on his technique away from the intense scrutiny of international cricket. Stuart Broad is back bowling after his injury problems and it will be interesting to see how Moores handles a talented, but young, seamer he knows well from the Academy. Given Moores' leaning towards experience, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Matthew Hoggard recalled.

England have been in the position of needing to rebuild their one-day side more times than they'd care to remember. However, this new era will be watched with greater interest than many which have gone before.

Possible squad Alastair Cook, Matt Prior, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood (capt), Owais Shah, Vikram Solanki, Alex Gidman, Michael Yardy, Stuart Broad, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson, Matthew Hoggard, Monty Panesar

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo

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