As Cameron Bancroft becomes Durham captain, Mark Wood explains the hierarchy of potential captains

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Mark Wood (ECB)

Back when we had a grim office job at a company that was dying on its arse, no-one wanted to manage our department because it meant a lot more spreadsheets and getting shouted at and not very much more money.

(Culture-wise, the founder once described it as a “sales-led company,” which basically meant that he wanted everyone to be Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. (This is not at all a viable business approach, by the way. The more Blakes you have, the less efficient a firm becomes. From experience, we’d estimate that the maximum number of Blakes a thriving company can accommodate would be either one or none. Probably none.))

One time, when they needed to recruit for the manager role for about the ninth time, they took each remaining member of the team into a side room one by one. To each of us, they said, “We really think that you, specifically, would be perfect for this job,” and each of us said “No, thank you.”

We get the impression there’s been a bit of this at Durham where Cameron “Role Model” Bancroft – a man who almost gave up cricket to teach yoga but then didn’t – has been named captain for the 2019 season.

After everyone else had rejected the job, it seems like there was, at most, one other candidate other than Bancroft: Chris Rushworth.

Now Chris Rushworth is a fine individual and a guaranteed member of the first team, but he made one fatal error in his bid to become captain: he practised bowling and became good at bowling.

Just as there is a hierarchy of suitability for the position of England captain, so there is a similar list for counties.

As Mark Wood told Cricinfo: “We have a young team so there were only two other players I thought could have done it.

“One would have been Alex Lees, but at this time in his career it’s probably better that he focuses on himself and goes under the radar a little bit.

“The other one would be Chris Rushworth, but we all know bowlers never become captains because they think that we’re dumb.”


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  1. Serious question coming up.

    Bearing in mind the additional commercial and media commitments that come with captaincy, are clubs taking account of important metrics? Like instances per sentence uttered of key words (“unit”, “team”, “performance”, “target”, “progress” etc, though this far north probably not “line” or “elite”). Or ability to keep a straight face during sponsor endorsements. Or ability not to sound like an idiot when wheeled out to meet the big cheeses at corporate entertainment.

    1. I understand that, at least in the past, ability to speak in English to the international media / sponsors has been a component of captaincy-selection for some Asian national sides, but that’s presumably correlated, maybe even entangled, with their version of our class thing too.

    2. That’s why they’ve really picked Bancroft: if his year in the wilderness has proved any two things, it’s that he’s great at spouting bullshit and he’s miles and miles up his own colon. Which is impressive given that it’s less than 4m long.

    1. Are you talking about Sam’s smart windcheater, Ged, or the lady in the magenta Parka?

      1. I’d have thought that the sentences in my comment, “Look everyone.! My Banana Jacket is alive and well.”…

        …might have answered that question for you, Edwardian.

        No-one EVER described my banana jacket as a smart windcheater.

        As for the fourth wall, Sam, I seem to recall you ripping your one down yourself, when you interviewed our hopeless Prime Minister, in the spring of 2017. Who knows, perhaps President Trump will get the Mexicans to pay for you to have a replacement fourth wall.

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