England's confused thinking

JUST what England are trying to do to build a better team continues to amaze me. Perhaps the hardest thing to do when you are trying to rebuild is to get the structure right.

BOB SIMPSON

JUST what England are trying to do to build a better team continues to amaze me. Perhaps the hardest thing to do when you are trying to rebuild is to get the structure right.

Nasser Hussain and Steve Waugh. Hussain has stood down from one-day international cricket. He was quoted at the time as saying that Steve Waugh's Test career was being extended by his not playing one-day cricket and he hoped it would be the same with him. The big difference, of course, was Steve Waugh was dropped and he went out screaming about this decision. — Pic. LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/GETTY IMAGES-

Putting together one team is hard enough, but England have signalled their intention that they want almost completely different teams for one-day and Test cricket.

Once again they seem to be trying to copy Australia, but are Australia's two teams really all that different?

There has been much conjecture over this, but in recent times Australia have been edging back to picking a majority of their Test players for the ODIs.

There is nothing like having hard-nosed, experienced players in both forms of the game and this is exactly what Australia has been aiming at. It doesn't do any harm that they are also highly talented and this is why they are the best and the most consistent team in the world.

England must decide on a consistent policy and stick to it and give their chosen players time to settle into their position. Unfortunately, I see very little of this happening at present.

Their thinking, or at least Nasser Hussain's thinking when he announced he was standing down from one-day international cricket set the tone. In my view, Hussain's decision was a selfish one.

He was quoted at the time as saying that Steve Waugh's Test career was being extended by his not playing one-day cricket and he hoped it would be the same with him.

The big difference, of course, was Steve Waugh was dropped and he went out screaming about this decision.

That Steve was able to score that remarkable century in the final Ashes Test last summer indeed saved his Test career, for I have little doubt the Australian selectors would have liked him to retire from all international cricket so that they could get on with planning for the future.

The Australian selectors wanted to get back to one captain for both the ODIs and Test cricket. For they know that such a policy is the best way to obtain complete harmony in their team.

Hussain's desire to play just Test cricket will not be in the best interest of his team. Right now, England need to rebuild and the major thing they must decide on is to have one captain only.

I note also, with concern, that Hussain hasn't been slow in giving advice to Michael Vaughan, his successor as captain of England's one-day team.

"Make them a little scared of you," is one of the gems he passed on to his successor.

Making people scared of you is not the way to build team spirit.

Vaughan at present is in the ideal position as he has just finished a wonderfully successful series against Australia and has just been elevated as the best batsman in the world.

He has the total respect of the English squad and respect is the main thing in making your team respond to you.

England's chairman of selectors David Graveney somehow has hung on to his job, but still seems keen to speak more openly to the media than a chairman of selectors should.

His latest gem in suggesting that at least six changes to the one-day squad are needed is certainly going to make the English players wonder about the professionalism of their chairman.

England will have no trouble with the beleaguered Zimbabwe team and the success they have against them will have little bearing on the future of English cricket.

One of the things that has surprised me is the lack of a public role for their coach Duncan Fletcher.

A coach who is also a selector is in an enviable position, for he is not only able to decide as to what type of cricket England should be playing, but he can also have a major role in selecting the best players to implement those plans.

I believe from reliable sources that Duncan is not in favour of different teams and, I assume, different captains, and as coach he should be the most important voice in these matters.

Adding to the pot pourri of the English team selection is the addition of Rodney Marsh as a selector.

Rod was appointed as head of the English Cricket Academy, or so called English Cricket Centre of Excellence. I am not sure what a centre of excellence is, but they have about six of them dotted around England these days. Sounds good, but I think they are still academies.

Rod is very much the flavour of the year in English cricket and it will be very interesting to see how much influence he has. He was a top wicket-keeper and a strong personality when running the Australian Cricket Academy.

His actual experience as a coach at the first class level is very limited. He will be obviously anxious to push his youngsters from the Academy. His main problem as a selector will be to try and temper his enthusiasm for his young charges and ease them in when the time is right.