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One captain or two?

DEFEAT brings problems in its wake. Victory can do likewise. Australia's unexpected win in the final of the trination series in India has created problems for some people in Australia itself. And chief among these are Mark Taylor and the selectors.

When Taylor, on his return from India, spoke out against the practice of having separate captains for the Test and one-day sides, he was on very firm ground. There was something on which to base his statements -- a pathetic showing in India. Now, after the team has won the one one-day match against India which mattered, his argument has been watered down.

What Taylor's statements amounted to was practically an ultimatum; he had seen it was the best opportunity to regain leadership of the one-day team and he decided to stake his claim. Now, what does he do?

Steve Waugh has no great record as a one-day skipper -- he has led the team to as many wins as losses. But he has ensured that he was on the winning side in the matches which mattered -- the two finals against South Africa, the final against India and two of the four ties against New Zealand to ensure that the series was tied.

The victory over India has also given the selectors something to break their heads over. What do they tell Taylor when they sit down with him and senior members of the squad and have a chat as the Australian Test captain suggested? There is no way they can discontinue the practice of having two captains now -- not after such an emphatic win when all seemed lost.

There is only thing the selectors can say -- they will have to simply tell Taylor that things appear to be working out with two skippers. The interesting thing will be what Taylor decides to do -- abdicate the captaincy, say he would like to be considered for a place on the tour of Pakistan as a batsman and indicate his willingness to play under Waugh? Or else will he choose to call it a day? There is something to be remembered by if he chooses the latter option -- his last Test innings was a very fine hundred.

One doubts whether Taylor visualised a situation such as this when he made his comments. Very likely not. But now he has to deal with it. It has weakened his position and he is now unlikely to ever play one-day cricket for his country. The World Cup is a little over a year away and there is no doubt that Taylor would have liked to lead the team in that competition and then call it a day. Australia's victory over India may well have put paid to any chance he had of doing so.