Originally Posted by sanskritsimon
I agree with you that Cook and Bell are best left out of the ODI team, if that's what you're saying in the last paragraph. But I can't see that categorising certain players to yourself as core players could have the effect that you outline here. In practice, unless you wish for the ECB to make some announcement labelling certain players as core players in the meantime, there's going to be a selection meeting before every ODI series, and a squad will be announced, and then when the team is chosen on the day everyone is in principle as core as everyone else, and the differentiation of one player from another is as performed by the scorecard, i.e. in terms of batting and bowling order. The place for your concept of "core" to make a difference is presumably only in the selection meeting; and there I am not so sure how it would work. Some roles and some players will receive more discussion than others in such a meeting, but that will depend on a variety of factors, only one of which -- and probably a comparatively minor one -- will be some grand new vision devised in the abstract after being walloped in the last world cup. It would seem a bit superfluous for the selectors to try explicitly to agree amongst themselves about who is going to constitute the core of their team, since on the face of it they have enough work on their hands choosing a XII or a XV or whatever the squad may require. And I can't see how picking Stokes, Buttler and Root before the rest of the team, in the selection meeting behind closed doors, would make any difference to the team as a whole. We simply don't know in what order the selectors pick the team, and it doesn't matter; and I can't see that there's anywhere else for your notion of "starting off" with certain players rather than others to be embodied. The openers come out to bat first, but they're not necessarily the so-called "core" players; and the whole team at once come out to field. You're surely not proposing to instruct the squad as a whole that they have to follow the example of Buttler, Root, and Stokes -- for then what if all those three play like melons for several games on the trot? In practice, the tone is set by different people in different games, or in different phases of the same game. I think there is a place for the kind of role that you've sketched; but it's located in the form of the captain who leads by example. And we all know the perennial problems attendant on that singling out of one player: his form goes up and down, he gets blamed when the team lose, he worries too much, etc. etc. In practice, the team have to find inspiration from each other if they possibly can; but there's no reliable way of legislating in advance how that will work.
Most high-performance teams have star players and good solid pros who understand their role within the squad and the eleven, when selected. There is no necessity to instruct players to emulate others, since their performances, leadership and skills speak for themselves.
To a degree the designated leaders are already anointed through appointment to captain, vice-captain and wicket-keeper, who is often the leader of the fielding effort.
I am not suggesting this approach be loudly ballyhooed in the media for dissection by all and sundry.