English cricket is on the verge of another dawn with former Test captain Andrew Strauss in talks to take on a powerful, newly created role that potentially threatens the future of under-pressure national coach Peter Moores.
Strauss’ employer, British broadcaster Sky Sports, said on Friday he has been talking to the England and Wales Cricket Board over the past week about becoming the country’s director of cricket. Strauss was scheduled to be commentating on England’s one-day international against Ireland on Friday but was absent due to his continued negotiations with the ECB.
The new wide-ranging position, which will be responsible for delivering a “world-class performance environment for all formats,” was created after the ECB fired managing director Paul Downton last month following England’s dismal Cricket World Cup campaign.
Should Strauss take up the position, one of his priorities would likely be overhauling the ODI team to make it more competitive after years of failure in the 50-over format. The latest setback was a failure to advance from the group stage at the World Cup after losing to Bangladesh.
Strauss would also need to make a call on Moores, who is a year into his second spell as coach and has failed to justify a tag – given to him on his appointment by Downton – that he is the “outstanding coach of his generation.”
A 1-1 draw in a Test series against the West Indies, who were without many key players due to their involvement in the Indian Premier League, capped a disappointing year of results under Moores. Incoming ECB chairman Colin Graves said there would be “inquiries” if England didn’t win the series against opposition he described as ‘mediocre.’
Strauss’ appointment was being widely viewed as a done deal, with Sky saying it was “highly likely.” Another former England captain, Michael Vaughan, also spoke to the ECB but pulled out of the running, saying on Tuesday: “During our talks, the limitations of the role became clear to me, and I realized it was not the right job for me at this moment in time.”
The 38-year-old Strauss retired in 2012 after captaining England to back-to-back Ashes series victories and the team’s rise to No. 1 in the Test rankings. The South African-born opener is one of England’s most successful captains, and scored 7,037 runs in 100 Tests.
In retirement, Strauss has worked as a pundit for Sky and written columns for British newspaper The Sunday Times.
Since losing 5-0 in the Ashes series Down Under in 2013-14, England has seen the departure of Andy Flower as coach, Alastair Cook as ODI captain, Ashley Giles as limited-overs coach, backroom staff members Graham Gooch and Mushtaq Ahmed, and gone through two managing directors.
Star batsman Kevin Pietersen has also seen his national contract terminated in an attempt by England to restore unity and harmony in the dressing room.
Pietersen is seeking a way back into the England team but Strauss’ potential appointment is unlikely to help his chances. Pietersen declared in his recently published autobiography that a clique of players bullied and intimidated teammates in the Andy Flower era in which Strauss was captain.
Pietersen reacted to the latest news about Strauss by tweeting: “Hopefully he puts personal feelings aside & does what’s right for English cricket…he has HUGE responsibility now!”