Thursday, 27 June 2013

Captain Tredwell

Young cricketers generally dream that that one day they will captain their country. Few of them ever get that chances, but very occasionally someone who thought they never would gets a chance.

If you asked James Tredwell a year ago if he would captain England, he would have quietly chuckled. He may have still hoped he might. Maybe he would have pictured a few great years of County Championship bowling, then a Test career to replace Graeme Swann.

Perhaps he would have idly dreamed of a few good years for England in his late career, possibly a promotion to vice-captain, then stepping in at the last minute as Alastair Cook breaks a finger in some far-flung corner of the world. He may have dreamed of a match winning captaincy début in a Test match, but he sure as hell wouldn't have dreamed of captaining in a lone, washed out t20.

A year ago he hadn’t played a t20 for England, wasn’t yet captain of Kent, or the regular performer in ODIs that he’s become.

Yet, tonight, Eoin Morgan’s injury handed him - no pun intended - the chance to skipper England’s t20 team against New Zealand. The irony is that whilst for most cricket fans, this was to be a most inconsequential match, save for the return of Kevin Pietersen, yet for Tredwell it was one of the biggest of his life.

It’s perfectly possible to be pleased for Tredwell, whilst also worrying that the captaincy has been somewhat devalued. In recent years almost everybody has captained England. In the last year alone, Strauss, Cook, Broad, Morgan, and now Tredwell have captained their county. Add that to Pietersen and Swann, and England could field six captains in a team if they wished to.

To add to this, Tredwell becomes England’s eighth t20 captain, in eight years of t20 cricket; Vaughan, Strauss, Cook, Collingwood, Broad, Swann and Morgan the other seven. Collingwood and Broad have captained 47 out of 59 England t20 matches, whilst the other six have shared twelve matches between them. Out of those eight, only three have captained England in Tests.

This proliferation of captains makes those who’ve missed out especially interesting. Of the long term players in England’s squads, Ian Bell seems the likeliest captain who’s never had a chance - other than Matt Prior, who as vice-captain is second in line to the Test captaincy should something happen to Cook.

Perhaps Bell is not seen as either a viable long term option to test out, or a calm hand at the tiller to take temporary charge. For the second option, both "Iceman" Morgan and "Never let England down" Tredwell seem solid options, and Tredwell, as captain of Kent this season, has some experience under his belt.

After the rain came however, he was left with perhaps the shortest England captaincy career of any player. He had one coin toss - that he lost - he sent his batsmen out to face two balls, a two and a wicket, and they all sheltered from the rain as the match was eventually cancelled.

Still, since the game got underway, the record books will show that James Tredwell captained England. Like Frederick J. Hyland, who Wisden records as having “played as a professional in one match for Hampshire in 1924,” he achieved a somewhat hollow achievement. Hyland played in one match which went for two overs before being rained off. He neither batted nor bowled as a First-class cricketer, just as Tredwell has neither batted nor bowled as an England captain.

Sometimes, the achievement, whether it is playing First-class cricket, or captaining your country is enough to set you apart, even though in the end, it didn’t entail doing much. So ends James Tredwell’s England captaincy career, not in the glorious victory he may have dreamt, but in a lost toss and a washout. In one sense, that won't matter a jot. He can say, "I've captained England," and nobody can contradict him.

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