Paul Newman told Cricket Writers on TV that England should not appoint Ian Bell as skipper if Alastair Cook is removed from the role.
Cook’s wretched run with the bat – he has failed to score a century in 27 innings – coupled with the fact England have not won in the Test arena since beating Australia in Durham last August has increased the scrutiny on the opener’s captaincy.
But Daily Mail journalist Newman reckons Bell’s lack of authority would make him an unsuitable replacement for the under-pressure Essex man.
“I can’t see Bell as England captain in a million years,” said Newman.
“He is a very nice guy and class batsman but he is a follower not a leader.
“He is nominally vice-captain but I think that’s only because there have been doubts over Matt Prior’s fitness and place in the side.
“And if you look on the field it’s Prior who is the deputy.”
Newman feels Bell’s current form – he averaged just 26.11 in the winter Ashes whitewash and has not passed 64 in eight Test innings this summer against Sri Lanka and India – proves he is not firing when his country needs him most.
And the CWOT panellist says that, and the uncertainty over the long-term international prospects of stalwart gloveman Prior, makes Joe Root the only man capable of succeeding Cook.
“The senior players have let Cook down and none more so than Bell,” said Newman.
“When he scored three Ashes centuries last summer, I thought it was going to be the making of him and he could become a great player.
“But it seems like he is trapped in a comfort zone at No. 4, knowing there is no pressure on his place, when really he should be bringing that middle order through.
“Over the years doing this job you can be harsh on people at certain times and I feel I have been harsh on Bell, but it is so infuriating when he gives his wicket away when he is well set, something I thought we had got over.
“I think it is a real problem of where England go next if Cook does go [as captain] but I think it would have to be Root, even though he is 23 and has played in just 18 Tests.”
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Plus, for more debate from Newman, as well as Daily Express scribe Gideon Brooks and The Sunday Times’ Simon Wilde, download the Cricket Writers on TV podcast by following this link.