Captain Cook takes the helm

This time last week, Andrew Strauss was England’s man at the helm. On Saturday, for a perfunctory 37.2 overs, Stuart Broad took over as national captain, and at 12.30pm this  afternoon, Alastair Cook will line up at the toss as England’s third skipper in eight days. The policy of separate leaders for all three formats always looked like a bit of a gamble, but right at this moment, following the most anticlimactic coronation imaginable for Broad at Bristol, there’s an additional layer of scrutiny pending.

On the bright side for Cook, his first game as full-time ODI captain is unlikely to go quite as badly as Strauss’s last in the role, in Colombo three months ago. England’s ten-wicket drubbing in that fixture was inflicted by Upul Tharanga, who is currently serving a suspension for the use of a prohibited substance, and Tillakaratne Dilshan who, although passed fit, is still feeling the effects of his broken thumb. Nevertheless, there was a yawning gulf in class on display at Bristol. In the 50-over format, England have four years in which to get their act together ahead of the 2015 World Cup. Few people are expecting them to pull it off at the first time of asking.

There will be other factors at play at The Oval. After a handy cameo with the ball, if not the bat, at Bristol, Sanath Jayasuriya is preparing to sign off from international cricket at the ground where, in 1998, his blazing double-century set the stage for Muttiah Muralitharan’s 16-wicket masterclass in the one-off Test against England. The circumstances of his recall have been controversial, even though with Dilshan missing for a week his experience has not been unwelcome. Meanwhile off the pitch, Stuart Law has confirmed he will be moving on to become coach of Bangladesh. Distractions abound for Sri Lanka, but they are pretty accustomed to such things.  (Cricinfo)

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