England’s Alastair Cook ended the first test against India with a smile on his face after taking a maiden international wicket but it had been another tough five days for the skipper. Dismissed for just five and criticised for some of his on-field decisions, there are growing calls for Cook to be replaced but who are the captaincy alternatives if the current incumbent steps down?
England remain favourites to win the current test series with India but would a change of skipper help their cause? Broad is the current T20 captain and many view him as the ‘next cab off the rank’ but he is still learning a difficult art in the shortest form of the game.
There are no issues with the Nottinghamshire all rounder’s form: Behind Jimmy Anderson he is England’s most potent bowler and with a test century to his name, the left hander continues to score useful runs down the order. However, Broad has struggled with niggling injuries in recent years and occasional absences from the squad may count against him.
England’s core members play so little county cricket these days that few have any real captaincy experience and that may hinder Ian Bell’s chances of taking the top job.
Warwickshire’s Bell is the latest man to join England’s 100 cap club and behind Cook, he is the country’s most senior player. 20 test centuries at an average of just under 45 make him an automatic pick but there are some concerns over a loss of form this summer as he looks to plug the number four position vacated by Kevin Pietersen.
It’s rare for a seamer to be given the England captaincy and you have to go back to Bob Willis in the 1980’s for the last time an ‘out and out’ bowler was handed the role on a permanent basis. Anderson has been leader of the attack for some considerable time now and after 95 tests, his seniority and the respect he earns from within the squad make him a credible candidate.
However, there are concerns that he can lack the ability to stay calm under pressure – an accusation that was widely levelled even before India’s claims that he pushed and verbally abused Ravindra Jadeja during the first test.
12 months ago, wicket keeper Prior would have been regarded as a racing certainty to take over from Cook if England’s captain had to make way. Unchallenged as the side’s stumper, Sussex’s Prior was in the batting form of his life and had been handed the vice captaincy for the home Ashes series.
A lean run with the bat against the Aussies was followed by a disastrous tour Down Under that culminated in him being left out of the side in favour of Jonny Bairstow. Prior admitted that he had underestimated the role of vice captain but a return to form in the current India series may make him a viable candidate once again.
England rarely bring in a new captain from outside of the squad but there are precedents. Mike Brearley famously returned to guide the country to an Ashes win in 1981 while Chris Cowdrey was later brought in against the West Indies.
Morgan is out of the test side but has captained the ODI and T20 teams and remains an important part of the national set up. Many feel he was unlucky not to replace Kevin Pietersen at the start of the summer and the Middlesex man is a creditable outsider for the top job.