Andrew Strauss is a measured, smart man

Andrew Strauss is a good guy. He’s played 100 Test matches, he understands English cricket and he will make measured, smart decisions.

Getting him involved back at the top of the ECB now is good news for the game in this country because we need more change than just firing a load of people and replacing them.

We need somebody to come in, take an objective look at what’s happening and make smart, strategic decisions. Hopefully he takes the job on for the long-term, not just temporarily.

He’s got a job to do to change the look and feel of red-ball cricket in this country, not just finding a new head coach.

I understand why Chris Silverwood being sacked was the story of last week but, honestly, this should not be the main talking point. No head coach could get a tune out of an England Test team while it’s being set up to fail by the structure of the domestic game.

Hopefully the return of Strauss to the ECB means that a few more influential decisions are going to be made in the next few weeks.

I love county cricket, but the English game has moved on

I’m still getting pelters for my views on the red-ball structure in England. Lots of the responses are quite angry and that’s OK, because people are passionate about county cricket.

People forget that I have fondness for county cricket, too.

I love playing at places like Hove, which is a beautiful ground. I’ve got great memories of playing at Derbyshire, at Essex, and all the others. They’re wonderful places to play and watch cricket, so I understand the passion around them.

I broke into the England team through the county system and it was great.

I don’t want to abolish these clubs or these grounds, but English cricket has changed in the last 20 years. You’re not getting the world’s best players coming to play in the County Championship anymore, because the game has moved on.

It’s an absolute fact that the standard of county cricket is nowhere near as strong as it was then, so it’s hardly surprising that the Test team is getting worse with it.

That means that we need a new franchise structure that allows the best to play against the best, like county cricket was 20 years ago.

I have nothing against the counties, and they would continue to operate below this system.

But there are far too many mediocre cricketers calling themselves first-class and it has to change if the Test team is to flourish again.

Paul Collingwood is a perfect fit for head coach

One man I’m delighted to see still involved is Paul Collingwood. It makes sense to me that when you have a clever, quality, experienced guy like Colly, you use him.

As I’ve written, the appointment of the next head coach is not a priority at the moment. I don’t have too much interest in who they appoint if it doesn’t come with radical change.

That’s why appointing Collingwood, who is already on the payroll, and understands the difficulties that England’s Test team are having, makes total sense.

It means more time and money can be spent solving what are the fundamental issues in our game.

I really hope Collingwood goes well in the West Indies as interim coach so that he can quietly be handed the reins for a little while longer.

The IPL mega auction is a hugely exciting time for players

It’s a massively exciting time for everybody involved in the IPL, with the mega auction an incredible opportunity for so many lives to be changed.

The money is in the game and so it should belong to the players, not the executives. I have no issue with the type of cash that will be heading for several players’ pockets this weekend.

They’re talented enough, they’re working hard enough and they deserve it.

I still remember the excitement when I was first bought in an IPL auction. It’s a story I’ve told many times – I was in the Caribbean in the middle of a Test match, and when I got out caught on the boundary the next day the headline was ‘Dumb Slog Millionaire’.

It’s still the best headline I’ve ever seen.

With it being a mega auction, and with two new teams involved, there are a lot of players available who haven’t been on the market for a while.

Shikhar Dhawan and Ishan Kishan are two premium domestic batters on the market, and I’ll also be keeping an eye on Pat Cummins, Quinton de Kock and Trent Boult.

It would be great to see Mark Wood rewarded for years of hard work and perseverance with a big contract, too.

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