Prior to the second Test of England’s recently concluded series in Sri Lanka, there was intense speculation surrounding the place in the side of captain Andrew Strauss.
Four consecutive defeats, a run of form that had seen him register a solitary century in the best part of 50 innings and the fact that the rest of the batting order had had their go under the microscope meant that it was Strauss’ turn to undergo the media examination.
This may have seemed a touch harsh and a number of his charges came out and said as much, but from outside the boundary, if a captain and batsman isn’t doing what he is paid to do then it is inevitable that the rumblings will increase in frequency and pitch.
For all the success that England have garnered, plenty of credit must go to the leadership duo of Struass and Andy Flower who have turned them into a fine outfit.
But when results turn, as is the case in every other sport, and even if it is in a very short space of time, the credit that has been built up can quickly evaporate.
That isn’t to say that Struass and Flower should be under any more pressure than running an international team naturally attracts because their achievements are worthy of a fairly large buffer.
Flower is undoubtedly the best man for the coaching job and as far as the captaincy goes, Strauss doesn’t have any competition.
Alastair Cook is the heir apparent and will ascend to the role at some stage but, for the moment, he is best left alone to concentrate on doing his primary function.
However, for all the muted criticism that Strauss is receiving as the team’s general, it is as an opening batsman that the focus is more acute.
When India were being brushed aside last summer, the fact that Strauss wasn’t as prolific as he has been was barely mentioned.
And if the results over the past few months had been different, the same would have been true.
But just as the captain feels the heat when a team is losing, the same will be true for a batsman when the team can’t post a total and this is the position that Strauss finds himself in.
He would be the first to admit that one three-figure score in two years isn’t really good enough but closer scrutiny of his statistics over the same period – he is averaging in excess of 30 – show that he is far from having a nightmare.
And until that comes to pass, his place against the new ball should be assured.
Another good reason is that there aren’t any ready-made replacements.
England may be the envy of the world game when it comes to the pace bowling stocks they possess, but there isn’t anywhere near as much depth in the batting ranks, especially in the role that Strauss occupies.
Of the names that have been bandied around, Yorkshire’s Joe Root and Nottinghamshire’s Alex Hales, both of whom toured with England Lions in the winter, come up more often than not but they have five first-class 100s between them and are nowhere near ready to graduate to the Test team.
The only competition being offered is in the middle order and only Hales’ colleague James Taylor currently has a record that bears scrutiny.
So for all the talk, the best man for the job is the one already there and that won’t change anytime soon.