Andrew Strauss insists the new England head coach will not be a “whipping boy” for him or anyone else.
Strauss is searching for a full-time successor to Peter Moores, who was sacked on the same day the former England captain took up his new role as director of cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board earlier this month.
Several names have been touted as possible appointments, with Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie believed to be the favourite, but there have been suggestions the new man might not have as much control over team affairs as they would like, especially as a return for Kevin Pietersen has been out ruled out by Strauss while the decision to appoint Joe Root as England’s Test vice-captain has already been taken as well.
However, Strauss assures that will not be the case.
He said during an interview with BBC’s Test Match Special on Thursday: “The new coach is going to be given the opportunity and space to do his job.
“He is not going to be a whipping boy for me or anyone else.”
Aside from former Australia fast bowler Gillespie – who admitted to being “flattered” at being linked with the post, while insisting he was already in his “dream job” at Headingley – ex-Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody has been linked with the job, while Paul Farbrace, who is taking charge of the side for the series against New Zealand, has said it would be “very hard to say no” if he was offered the post.
Strauss was giving little away about how the recruitment bid was going, though.
He later said in a TV interview: “The only way this process works properly is if there’s complete confidentiality. It’s not fair on any of the candidates. We’re trying to do this quickly as possible but we’ve got to make sure we pick the right person, so we’re not in a rush on it.”
Strauss also insists there is a “bigger picture” to his widely unpopular decision to leave Pietersen in the international wilderness.
Despite Pietersen’s triple hundred for Surrey against Leicestershire in the LV= County Championship last week, Strauss opted against offering the controversial batsman an England recall.
While Strauss, a former team-mate of Pietersen and with whom he has had a turbulent personal relationship, admitted it was a tough decision, he revealed he has a vision to take English cricket out of the doldrums which does not include Pietersen in the set-up for the time being.
The former Middlesex opener said he hopes to build a successful team environment that can lead to greater interest in the game, with attendances and playing numbers declining in the last year or so.
“I was pretty clear in what I wanted to do in order to take the team forward and I think it is all about culture and environment,” he said.
“That’s how we’re going to get the best out of our players, that’s how we’re going to produce a side that people down the track are proud of and will encourage people to play the game and watch the game.
“That’s the bigger picture in all this. With the current situation, it’s impossible to create that culture. In a sense, for me, it was a clear decision (to not select Pietersen) even though it was a very difficult one.”
Pietersen and the ECB have a notoriously rocky relationship, and Strauss added: “One of my jobs is to bring us (the players and the ECB) closer together again.
“It needs to be a really healthy and strong relationship between the players and the ECB. We’ve all got to be working to do the same sort of thing.”
While Strauss has a long-term goal - he sees this “very much as a four-year job” - he rejected the notion that England have surrendered all hope of regaining the Ashes this year.
“Any thoughts that this Ashes is a write-off, it couldn’t be further from the truth, it really couldn’t,” he added. “I rate our chances really highly.”