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The England Captains Debate

August 10, 2006

John TerryThe identity of 2 future England captains are hot topics at the moment.

John Terry has just replaced David Beckham as England football captain in favour of Liverpool dynamo Steven Gerrard and Man Utd veteran, Gary Neville.

With Michael Vaughan injured for the foreseeable future, the competition is intensifying between Andrew Strauss, who has successfully led England to a 2-0 series lead over Pakistan, and Andrew ‘Freddy’ Flintoff, the golden boy of English cricket, for the position of captain for this winter’s Ashes tour of Australia.

Terry Vs. Gerrard

John Terry has established himself at the heart of England’s defence, and managed what was at one time almost unthinkable – spilt up the ‘dream’ partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell. With injuries, a drop in form from Ferdinand, and Campbell going literally AWOL, Terry quietly and consistently made the position his own, and is now one of the first names on the team sheet. He has led Chelsea to back-to-back Premiership titles and is the rock on which Mourinho bases his plans.

Steven Gerrard has quite literally been inspirational in recent seasons. Leading be example, he has the ability to grab a crucial match by the scruff of the neck and stamp his indelible mark on it. His mere presence in the Liverpool side gives them the belief and the ability to play beyond the sum of their relatively ordinary parts. Liverpool are the best cup team in the Premiership for the simple reason that Gerrard can win them the match from almost any situation, and almost invariably does. An ever present figure in the England midfield, his experience of captaining Liverpool meant that he would be ideally suited to the position of England captain.

As strong as both these players are, there are some doubts about either of them leading England. Terry has yet to dominate a game with his presence playing for England in the way he does for Chelsea, and has looked more erratic at times. Where as Gerrard is, and has been for a while, a permanent fixture of the England side, Terry still has a large amount of competition since there are a number of quality English central defenders all pressing for a place in the side. Making Terry captain means there is only one central defender berth available and there will be more questions asked about his place in the side if Terry has a dip in form, rather than Gerrard, for whom the competition is less intense.

Gerrard maybe regarded as one of the best midfield players in the world, but the England side is very different from the Liverpool team which is specifically picked and tactically orientated around him. Liverpool play in a manner which gets the best out of Gerrard since he is their star player, but for England he is one of many, and his position and the formation rarely seem to get the best out of him. The added pressure of captaincy may be too much for a player already struggling to make an impact at international level in the way he would like.

As it is, Steve McLaren has chosen Terry, and only time will tell if this will bring the best out of both players, although a further change of personnel and formation will probably be required to take the team onto the next level, but that’s a bigger discussion for another time.

Andrew FlintoffStrauss Vs. Freddy

When England played their first test against India in March, they were without both their captain and the their vice captain. Mr Jack-of-all-trades was given the task of leading the side, and with an inexperienced team, England came away with a highly commendable 1-1 drawn series after a 212 runs victory in the 3rd test in Mumbai. This was followed in May by a drawn 1-1 series against Sri Lanka that England could, and probably should, have won at least 2-0. Worse was to follow when, in July, Flintoff was diagnosed as needing immediate ankle surgery, and was ruled out of action right up to the Ashes series.

Since Strauss has taken over as one-day captain, he was appointed captain for the current series against Pakistan, which England are leading 2-0.

After the India series, Flintoff was the obvious choice for the Ashes. But after putting a large strain on himself, not least by over using himself as a bowler in most innings, and some unimaginative field placings in the series against Sri Lanka, questions were being asked as to whether he had taken on too much. Now Strauss has proved he has what it takes, but only in two matches so far, the question is, who is the best bet to lead England to victory against Australia in Australia?

Personally, I would stick with Strauss since it’s still uncertain how fit Flintoff will be at the start of the series. However, a fully fit Flintoff could be the inspiration England need to successfully battle Warne and co. once more.

Solid or spectacular? Consistent or unpredictable? Good or great? Certainty or uncertainty?

That is the decision Duncan Fletcher will have to make, but yet again, it may ultimately be decided for him by the surgeon’s knife.

~ TranceFixed


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