Make us great again

It’s a new era for Eng­land as Strauss lays down a marker for suc­cess with Ashes loom­ing

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Stocks

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.”

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Top man: New Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root at Head­in­g­ley this week and in­set, An­drew Strauss and Trevor Bayliss

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