If Andrew Strauss is the right man to make the big decisions that will define England’s immediate Test future, the perfect candidate to help him could be right under his nose.
The ECB board was due to act Tuesday night on Strauss’ recommendations on how England can recover from the worst of all their humiliations with Ashes, coach Chris Silverwood and his assistant Graham Thorpe, at least , having to pay the price with their jobs.
But the big question then is where Strauss will turn to next, particularly if the highly respected former England captain decides that Ashley Giles, the man who replaced him as chief executive, must also leave. after entrusting Silverwood with unprecedented power of selection.
Alec Stewart (left) is keen to take charge of the England Test squad, under Andrew Strauss
The answer lies at the Oval, home to one of England’s most experienced former players, who is still passing on the knowledge he acquired in 133 Tests to the current generation in his beloved Surrey as manager of cricket.
Sportsmail have reported that Alec Stewart is being considered to become an interim manager. And Strauss should now turn to a man who is the epitome of the professionalism and cricketing wisdom that England desperately needs.
Time is running out before England have to choose their team to face the West Indies in a three-Test series in March and the leadership vacuum is acute at the ECB, which is currently without a chair and with chief executive Tom Harrison under a enormous pressure.
That leaves Strauss, making his return to the administration initially as chairman of the ECB’s cricket committee, as a kingmaker with the power to decide what and who comes next – even to the enviable extent of being able to choose which role he will play himself in the future.
Stewart would be the perfect person to revive underperforming hitters like Ollie Pope (above)
An ideal scenario would be for Strauss to take over the role of team manager which he was forced to give up under the most tragic of circumstances following the death of his wife Ruth. And for him to bring in Stewart as a test coach for the Caribbean tour and probably the summer.
It would give Stewart time to restore the pride and core values of hopelessly underachieving England batting while also being the perfect senior figure to take the pressure and responsibility off the shoulders of captain Joe Root.
Strauss would then have time to widen his net and consider the long-term options available for England, with Graham Ford, Gary Kirsten and, oddly enough, possibly even Justin Langer as candidates. He must also identify the best person to coach the white ball teams if, as expected, the roles have to be shared again.
Stewart was asked to throw his hat in the ring before Giles nominated Silverwood and, after initially expressing interest, decided to pull out of the race for family reasons.
Those same issues could again keep him from doing the job all year, but a short-term salvage act is a different proposition.
Coach Chris Silverwood could pay the price for Ashes humiliation this winter
For all the attention to England’s technical issues in the Ashes, it’s the mental side of the game and the lack of discipline that seems to have permeated their side in Australia that Stewart could immediately address.
There’s no one better, for example, than Stewart to give Ollie Pope the calm, elegant batter seen at the Oval rather than the frenzied technical mess of the Ashes.
There would be no room for any of the fitness issues that obsessed Ollie Robinson towards the end of the Ashes. At 58, Stewart remains as fit as ever and hits the gym every morning before starting her day at the Oval.
And there would certainly be no room for the drinking culture that seemed to plague coaches more than players in Australia and could yet cost Paul Collingwood his chance at full-time white ball coaching.
The much-loved South African Ford is not expected to be a short-term contender but may well be available this winter. The same goes for Langer, who looks increasingly likely to leave his job with Australia when his contract ends in July.
Silverwood faces sack for catalog of errors that led to 4-0 thrashing
It seems extraordinary that Langer is being sent off by his players despite leading them to World Cup Twenty20 and Ashes success over the past four months, but it’s clear his disciplinary methods are not to current Australian tastes. .
That wouldn’t be a problem for England, who seem sure to go for someone more in the mold of Duncan Fletcher or Andy Flower than the laid-back style of Silverwood.
Is Langer just too Australian to consider coaching England? May be. But could he also relish the opportunity to prove that his native country is wrong to dump him? Very probably.
For now, England need someone who can choose their Caribbean side next week – and Stewart is thought to prefer the supremo system as long as the starter is surrounded by scouts who can question him – and meet England’s hour of need.
Unless Silverwood is given the most unexpected reprieve, there is no one better than the proud Englishman Stewart, who has seen it all with club and country.