Make us great again
It’s a new era for England as Strauss lays down a marker for success with Ashes looming
ENGLAND director of cricket Andrew Strauss has challenged new captain Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss to come up with a winning formula ahead of a huge year of Test cricket for the team.
England’s Test form over the past 12 months has been wildly inconsistent, with six wins, three draws and a record-equalling eight defeats.
The year ended with a 4-0 hammering in India that ultimately cost Alastair Cook his job as Test captain. Now with Root this week being installed as Cook’s successor, Strauss hopes he can turn England’s promise into tangible reward ahead of home series against South Africa and West Indies this summer and next winter’s Ashes in Australia.
Strauss said: “We’ve won a lot of Test matches over the last 18 months, and we’ve lost a lot of Test matches.
“We need to be more consistent, need to be harder to beat when we are not winning or in good positions, and it is up to Joe and Trevor to instil a method and a philosophy about how we are going to go about our cricket that will be clear enough for players to take out to the middle with them.
“The opportunity is now there for Joe to speak to the players and speak to Trevor and make sure they are really clear before making any massive public pronouncements.
“I think he is really clear about that and that is a fantastic starting point.”
Root, speaking at Headingley on Wednesday for the first time since being made captain, insisted his leadership style would be “natural” and “instinctive” and put the accent firmly on “enjoyment” for players and fans alike. The 26-year-old’s positive approach appears a better fit with the philosophy of Bayliss than that of the more conservative and circumspect Cook.
And Strauss believes the Yorkshireman’s relationship with his Australian coach will give England a head start in making the improvements necessary to become consistent winners.
“Trevor and Joe have an excellent relationship and speak the same language on a lot of different topics,” said Strauss.
“That is a source of comfort because there are always going to be times where you are in pressurised situations and people have different views, so people coming at it from a similar starting point will make it easier.”
Ben Stokes was appointed vice-captain, recognition of the Durham all-rounder’s growing influence in the England dressing-room.
“I think Ben has developed unbelievably quickly as a cricketer, and he’s establishing himself as a world-class all-rounder,” said Strauss. “But he’s also playing an increasingly influential role in a leadership capacity.”
However, Strauss stopped short of guaranteeing that Stokes would fill in as captain if Root were unavailable.
“As second in charge, Ben’s the perfect man,” said Strauss. “That doesn’t necessarily mean Ben is going to be a shoo-in to be England captain at some stage in the future – and I don’t think it would be right for me to say that, in absolutely every circumstance, Ben would take over.”
Top man: New England captain Joe Root at Headingley this week and inset, Andrew Strauss and Trevor Bayliss