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Hairy arms, Aussie heart

Who's the better captain - Ponting or Strauss

Time for the talking to stop. Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss are pictured with the urn ahead of the 2009 Ashes, England v Australia, 1st Test, Cardiff, July 7, 2009

"Advanced Hair Studios on your forearms? I wouldn't advise that, Andrew"  •  PA Sport

Alan has won the toss and will argue first, on the Relative Merits Of The Two Ashes Captains
Alan Tyers says What makes a good captain?
Tactical nous? Man management? Creating an atmosphere where players can flourish? Leading the team on the field and off it? Dealing graciously with the media and the public? Even, dare I say it, being an ambassador for your sport and your country? Being worth your place in the side on wickets or runs alone?
In every area of these bar the last, Andrew Strauss is superior to Ricky Ponting. And on current form, the Englishman is certainly in the same ballpark as the great batsman, if nothing like his career equal. Ricky has been a wonderful player and, how very English of me, I find myself warming to him in the twilight of his greatness. But he has been only a qualified success as a captain and leader of men. I believe this series will find him seriously wanting and, harsh though it may be, his captaincy record will besmirch his legacy. Not so easy when you haven’t got the bowlers, is it?
Jarrod Kimber says I’ve actively campaigned for Ricky Ponting to be sacked as captain. It’s obviously not the most successful campaign I’ve ever run, as I have no other candidates and after all these years he’s still captain. Tactically he sickens me. Under pressure in the field his arm hairs and spitting into his hands are his best features. He lives his life in the Cricket Australia bubble, where everything they do is right, even Michael Hussey bowling.
Ponting is still a better captain than Andrew Strauss. There are many reasons for this, but the first one is all you need: Ponting is Australian. He possesses an Aussie heart, an organ built for battle. Strauss has an English heart, which is okay for darts, I s’pose, but in cricket, not at all. Ponting is a little Aussie battler, made of grit, sweat and hard work. Dragged out of the slums of Launceston (pronounced Lonnie) to become one of the greatest batsmen ever and captain of the Australian Cricket Team. Strauss just isn’t Australian enough, and thusly, not as good.
Alan replies Well, is it a fight to the death or a series of cricket matches? I think all this hardman warrior stuff’s a bit overrated: the reason Australia were better than England for a long time is that they had several cricketers of genius. Ricky, like Steve Waugh before him, was able to give it the big ‘un because Warne and McGrath, and indeed Ricky himself, could cash the cheques the skipper was writing. Now he’s not got the firepower, there’s not a lot he can do other than strop and bluster. Strauss knows that you can lead a side without looking like you are dying for a punch-up the whole time.
Jarrod replies If Graeme Swann gets in a barroom scuffle this series, is Strauss going to step in? If someone questions Alastair Cook’s integrity, will Strauss fly into a rage? If a picture of Tim Bresnan is photoshopped, will Strauss publicly abuse the tweeter? Strauss’s leadership might be okay for weddings and bar mitzvahs, but as Strauss said, this is war, not some comfy home series. Anyway, I thought Strauss was just Andy Flower’s Muppet: look close enough and you can see a hand up him.
Ashes, 1896 style, in Alan’s W.G. Grace Ate My Pedalo. Ashes, 2009 style, in Jarrod’s When Freddie Became Jesus