Cricket Expert & Columnist
Mike Atherton says Andrew Strauss can get Kevin Pietersen on board and repair any rift in the England side.
Last Updated: 16/06/09 12:53pm
The events of the past few days can be traced back to five months ago when Kevin Pietersen got the job.
Was he actually the right man to captain England? I have to say at the time I did think it was a big gamble, but once he took the role on, you have to say he made a good fist of it.
I thought he made an excellent start and even though he didn't win a game, I really thought the tour of India was a triumph for Pietersen as a captain.
But the problems that have come to a head this week were already in place. It kind of leaked out after the New Zealand series that there was a problem between Pietersen and Peter Moores, but in India it was said that Pietersen was a bit miffed about the lack of support he got in Chennai when they failed to defend that total.
Things clearly degenerated from then on and although it wasn't obvious to outsiders, you do hear whispers about discontent. Well, this week it has become clear that things had reached a head and Pietersen, rightly or wrongly, felt that the England team was not going to progress with Moores in charge.
These things happen in sport and in life. But you have to try and resolve them in private because the moment the rest of the team realise that the coach and the captain are not getting on very well it will have a negative impact.
The captain and coach are always going to have disagreements but hopefully they can work through them - in private - and pull in the same direction for the benefit of the England cricket team.
That clearly wasn't going to happen with Pietersen and Moores, which is why English cricket has had such a tumultuous two days - and why the ECB have now turned to Andrew Strauss.
It is too easy to say that there was no-one else in a position to do the job and when push came to shove, Strauss was the only candidate.
I will tell you now he is a very capable candidate indeed. He has captained England before and done it very well and although the one-day side is a different issue, he is a permanent fixture in the England Test team.
I actually felt he was unlucky not to get the job when Michael Vaughan stepped down and certainly for the last Ashes series in Australia when Vaughan was injured and it went to Andrew Flintoff.
Admittedly, Strauss does not have Pietersen's star quality or presence and he certainly doesn't have his intuitive brilliance as a player, but he is a decent, sensible lad with a good cricketing brain. He has a nice manner about him, he is a proper professional and he works hard, trains hard and will set a good example on the practice field.
He is very fit, he looks after himself and he is pretty much unflappable. He has lots of qualities that should stand him in good stead, but of course as England captain he is going to need more than that.
The first thing he will need is to sort the Kevin Pietersen situation out.
It is not unusual for an England captain to step down and continue to play for the side - I did it myself - but this is different to anything we've ever seen before. Pietersen will find himself walking back into a group of players that, when push came to shove, did not support him.
That is going to be difficult for him and will be the first thing in the Strauss inbox, if you like, because there is genuine division in the camp, a real split in opinion. Hugh Morris found that out when he started to canvas player opinion about Moores. Pietersen, it seems, was clearly mistaken.
That will be hard for him to have realised and hard to deal with when he does walk back in to the fold, but what Strauss will not lose sight of is the fact that England need Pietersen - and he needs England. Once that is established we can all move on and I do think England will.
In any team I have played in not everyone has got on; it's the same in any walk of life, people aren't always going to like each other, simple as that. But the key thing from here on in is that everyone in the England set-up respects one another and they are all focussed on doing the best thing for England, which is winning cricket matches.
The one person I have genuine sympathy for in all this is Peter Moores.
I think he has conducted himself with a tremendous amount of dignity over these past few days. He has kept his counsel and has just gone about his business like the decent man he clearly is.
I don't know the ins and outs of him as a coach, but I do know all he was really guilty of was suffering a breakdown in the one relationship he couldn't afford to suffer - the one with his captain.
England now need a new coach for the next couple of months and that man might well be Andy Flower. He has international experience but whether he will want to put his name forward for the full-time role remains to be seen.
What I do know is that whoever gets the job, it will be done differently to last time. Don't forget Peter Moores was shooed in once Duncan Fletcher had gone, an inside appointment if you like, but that will not happen again.
It will be opened up for applications, and I suppose the usual candidates will be mentioned and will all apply.
Graham Ford was being talked about, but only in conjunction with Pietersen, so that now looks unlikely;Tom Moody is a lot of people's favourite but is firmly ensconsed in Western Australia and it is probably too early for someone like Ashley Giles.
It is difficult right now to think outside the box and come up with a candidate or two.
I will resist the suggestion put forward of an Hussain-Botham-Willis triumverate of power and if I had to throw one name into the ring, maybe Darren Lehmann's will come into the equation.
He is young, he knows the English set-up well, knows our players well and is well-liked over here. Then again, the same can be said of a certain Shane Warne!
I am sure there will be plenty of people interested because the Englanjd job is still a very, very attractive job for anyone in world cricket.
And I do not buy into all this talk of England shooting themselves in the foot either.
I would rather this sort of thing came out and was dealt with now rather than it blowing up in our faces in four months' time when England - Kevin Pietersen et al - are trying to win back the Ashes.