London: Andrew Strauss has promised the new England coach won't be a made a "whipping boy". Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden recently suggested anyone succeeding the sacked Peter Moores would be the "target" for an establishment kicking if things went wrong.
Andrew Strauss. Pic/AFP
Hayden's words were particularly resonant as his one-time Australia team-mate Jason Gillespie, now the coach of English county champions Yorkshire, is the favourite to replace Moores. But with former England captain Strauss, in his new role as England director of cricket, above any coach in the hierarchy, concerns have also been expressed as to how much authority will be granted to Moores's successor.
And there are those who've argued that with Strauss continuing to rule out star batsman Kevin Pietersen from England selection because of "trust" issues, any new coach won't have a free hand. However, Strauss told BBC Radio's Test Match Special on Thursday: "The new coach is going to be given the opportunity and space to do his job.
"He is not going to be a whipping boy for me or anyone else," insisted the former Middlesex opener as the first England side since his new appointment contested the first Test against New Zealand at Lord's. England assistant coach Paul Farbrace is currently in caretaker charge for the two-match series with New Zealand while Tom Moody, like Gillespie a former Australia international, has also been linked with the full-time post.
But Strauss, in a separate interview with Sky Sports, kept his cards close to his chest. "The only way this process works properly is if there's complete confidentiality. It's not fair (otherwise) on any of the candidates. "We're trying to do this quickly as possible but we've got to make sure we pick the right person, so we're not in a rush on it."
Meanwhile Strauss said there was a "bigger picture" regarding his decision to keep Pietersen in the international wilderness, having informed him he wouldn't be considered for selection in this season's matches with New Zealand and Australia shortly after England's all-time leading run-scorer in all formats had posted a triple-century for Surrey.
"I was pretty clear in what I wanted to do in order to take the team forward and I think it is all about culture and environment," he said. "That's how we're going to get the best out of our players, that's how we're going to produce a side that people down the track are proud of and will encourage people to play the game and watch the game. "That's the bigger picture in all this.
With the current situation, it's impossible to create that culture. In a sense, for me, it was a clear decision (to not select Pietersen) even though it was a very difficult one." Pietersen and Strauss have had a turbulent relationship, while Pietersen's controversial autobiography, published last year, saw him left fly at several England team-mates and senior ECB figures.
"One of my jobs is to bring us (the the ECB and the team ) closer together again," said Strauss. "We've all got to be working to do the same sort of thing." Although Strauss has spoken of a "four-year job", he denied this meant that England had given up hope of regaining the Ashes later this year following their 5-0 thrashing in Australia back in 2013/14. "Any thoughts that this Ashes is a write-off, it couldn't be further from the truth, it really couldn't," he insisted. "I rate our chances really highly."