England’s Ashes situation

Michael’s out, but remains favourite. Fred is out too, but he is the second favourite. Andrew’s no one’s favourite, really, but stays in. This all sounds like something from the interminable Big Brother but in fact this is England’s captaincy nightmare.

It’s hard to make head or tail of what has happened. Even yesterday, when Michael Vaughan was officially, finally ruled out of this winter’s Ashes series, there were rumblings from the ECB machine that “it’s really not that serious; we expect him back for the World Cup” and similar. And Flintoff? He is the stand-in captain and remains the favourite to replace Vaughan – when fit. When’s that? Who knows?

You have to feel a bit for Andrew Strauss, the stand-in stand-in. The ship’s engine is broken, there are bloody great big holes letting in gallons of water; steer us towards safety if you would! The calamity England find themselves in is, conversely, quite a relief. At least now they (we) can start from scratch and build from here, without constant, confusing, ambiguous medical reports from every doctor and his dog.

On similar lines, Kathy left a very interesting comment yesterday, making mention of Matthew Hoggard who, via Vaughan, was allowed to play in England A’s match against Pakistan (scorecard):

Interesting comments for two reasons: Vaughan still ably managing the team from the sidelines, and Hoggard’s belief that current form has got nothing to do with temporary captainship.

Perceptive thoughts, but I disagree that a team can be captained from the sidelines. It simply can’t. However, Hoggard’s belief that the temporary captaincy conundrum isn’t affecting England is perhaps indicitive of the confidence England still have within themselves. At least, I hope so.

Worst of all, and I can’t explain why I say this, the recent events with Vaughan and all the other injuries have really put a dampener on what England achieved last summer. It has been made futile – at least, that’s the impression I get. All that hard work – for what? Half the team are broken; the replacements are mostly still in nappies and are understandably flapping. England won the Ashes in 2005; why do I get the distinct feeling that we’re back to square one again?

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