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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Strauss 'should stay as skipper'
Andrew Strauss
Strauss has had an unhappy time captaining in the one-dayers
Mike Gatting says Andrew Strauss should lead England in the entire Test series against Pakistan if Andrew Flintoff is not fit for the opening game.

Michael Vaughan will not play again this summer because of his knee problem and Flintoff is doubtful for the first Test on 13 July with an injured ankle.

"You need to keep up continuity. If Freddie is not there you tell Strauss he's doing it for the four Tests.

"And if Freddie comes back you have an able lieutenant," said Gatting.

"They will also need someone for the Champions Trophy so I can only suggest that whoever captains the Test team will captain the team in India."

Strauss stood in as captain for two one-day internationals in India and has led the team in the one-day series with Sri Lanka, in which England have lost the first four matches.

It's important to have stability because players have to understand the man in charge

Brian Close

But Gatting believes he should continue in the role, particularly if England want Flintoff to focus on being ready for the Ashes series this winter.

"You have to be sensible about it. If they're happy with the way things are going, stick with Strauss.

"It sounds like they're hedging their bets a bit and we've got to make sure Freddie is fit for Australia."

Another ex-England skipper, Mike Denness, says chairman of selectors David Graveney is right not to make any firm decisions about who should lead the side in Australia if Vaughan does not recover in time.

"Strauss is learning at the top level, and he has the level-headed Trescothick to call upon, with coach Duncan Fletcher around anyway.

"There is stability if you know you are going to do it for a period of time and, assuming he doesn't get injured, Strauss will be captain for the summer and they will re-assess it in the latter stages of the summer.

Andrew Flintoff
England have badly missed Flintoff in the one-dayers with Sri Lanka

"By that time we will see how England are doing and how Andrew is coping with the situation," Denness told BBC Sport.

"In many ways it's better for him not to have an announcment so he can do it on a leisurely basis and keep working hard on his game without worrying about the full extent of the captaincy."

Brian Close, however, believes the selectors need to clarify the position as soon as possible.

He believes the disarray the team appear to be in at the moment is down to a lack of strong leadership, saying: "They've made a mess of it.

"It's important to have stability - if you've got the right captain - because players have to understand the man in charge as much as he has to understand them.

"It always helps if a captain is going to be there for a while, although he must deserve his place in team and it depends on the character and personality of whoever is chosen.


"Strauss doesn't have a good record so far and they look like a team of schoolkids at the present, wondering what's going to happen next."

Close feels Flintoff should assume the leadership as soon as he regains fitness.

"I'd give it to Freddie. All-rounders have always been the best captains because they understand bowling as well as batting," he added.

"The main part of captaincy is when you are in the field trying to get the opposition out and it's then that the bowler's attitude is worthwhile."

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