ENGLAND’S THREE LIONS GAMBLE

ENGLAND team director Andy Flower admits he is taking a leap into the unknown after it was revealed yesterday he will work alongside three different captains in a dramatic restructuring operation.

Andrew Strauss will remain as Test skipper but his decision to retire from one-day internationals presents Alastair Cook with the opportunity not only to regain his place in the ODI set-up, but to inherit the captaincy reins as well.

In the most abbreviated version of the game, Paul Collingwood, who led England’s successful World Twenty20 campaign last year, has been stood down with fast bowling all-rounder Stuart Broad bringing some youthful impetus in the role.

Operating with a trio of captains represents an unprecedented move for any international side, but Flower believes it will give England the best possible chance of becoming a force across the board.

“It has never been tried before so I am excited by the opportunity it provides us with,” said Flower. “We don’t know 100 per cent whether it will work and be the most efficient system but we’re going to give it a try.

“I think with the quality of people that we’ve got around us we form a good leadership team.”

Strauss will remain at the head of that unit and will have an influence over the direction of the one-day and Twenty20 sides, while Broad and Cook will also be expected to contribute and input into the running of the Test teams.

Strauss conceded that a three-pronged leadership could undermine his position as Test skipper, although he has total confidence in the personalities of Cook and Broad to make the system work.

“I can’t be sure about this and we don’t know how things are going to pan out in the future, but I think this gives us a great chance of progressing,” said Strauss. “I’m delighted that Alastair and Stuart have been appointed. they are both proven world-class cricketers and have outstanding leadership qualities.

“I look forward to working closely with them as we strive to progress England’s development across all forms of the game.”

Cook’s promotion to captaincy had been touted, but is still something of a surprise considering he has made only three appearances for the one-day team since February 2008.

“I’ve worked hard on my limited overs cricket recently. I’ve never seen myself as a Test batsman exclusively and I know I have a lot to offer strategically and as a top-order batsman in one-day cricket.”