Cricket Betting: Strauss must unite divided dressing room
Amidst the turmoil of the last few days, Andrew Strauss' appointment as England captain offers hope for the future. But don't expect him to solve all the problems at once, says Ralph Ellis.
Some you win, some you lose, I suppose. I was celebrating yesterday's tip to lay Manchester United at Derby last night as the news was still unfolding about the end of Kevin Pietersen's reign as England cricket captain. What was it I had written on New Year's Day when the story about his rift with Peter Moores first broke? "Nobody in their right mind would risk him walking away!"
But then again maybe I was correct both times. Are the people who run English cricket really in their right minds?! How exactly has this whole chaos been allowed to unfold? Just at the moment when the England cricket team seemed to have a chance of moving forward we're back to square one again.
However before you start rushing to bet against England in both the West Indies and in the Ashes series there's still some hope, and it comes in the form of Andrew Strauss who has been named as captain for the tour to the Caribbean.
Although the market's open it's too late to back Strauss to be captain for the first Test in the West Indies at just [1.05]. Sod's law says he'll get a tummy bug the night before if you do (although he'll be as fit as a fiddle if you lay it instead!)
Don't expect him to put right England's problems straight away. He'll arrive at the start of the tour with a divided dressing room in which it's clear from this morning's papers that Andrew Flintoff led a rebellion against Pietersen. The two have never looked like comfortable team mates, the recent trip to India was about the only time that the two swashbuckling stars had ever really batted well together in a partnership. And it's inevitable that the other players will split around the two most charismatic stars.
England are [2.4] to win the first Test and I'd lay that. They certainly shouldn't be odds on at [1.81] to win the series either, however much the current West Indies team is a shadow of the glorious past.
Where Strauss will be effective is in slowly healing those wounds. He's proved in the past that he's a calm and laid back leader who can bring a dressing room together. Don't forget he won his only series as a captain when he was asked to stand in during the summer of 2006 against Pakistan, and there was always an argument that the decision to put Flintoff in charge instead for the Ashes tour that followed was the start of the current debacle.
Strauss also proved then that the leadership doesn't have to affect his batting, with two centuries during that Pakistan series. Indeed, it was almost certainly the disappointment of losing the leadership that led to the slump in his form which followed.
England have edged out to [2.88] to win the Ashes now and I still think that's worth backing. The big row is out of the way and there's time to restore some harmony. And come the big stage, Pietersen's ego will make him want to get big scores to show everybody what they missed.
Five things you might not know about Andrew Strauss
1. He was born in South Africa, but moved to England when he was only six. His mother is English
2. He first played cricket in his early teens when his parents moved to Australia for a short working engagement
3. He names Winston Churchill as his all-time hero
4. He keeps a diary in which he records technical aspects of his batting to help him prepare to face the same bowlers again
5. He married Australian actress Ruth McDonald in 2003 and they live in Ealing with their two children