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After Taylor, who?

ONE cannot but find it ironic that at a time of triumph, people are speculating as to when Mark Taylor's term as captain will end! And while this speculation goes on, Richie Benaud has come out praising him as one of best five captains he (Benaud) has known. In the middle of this, we have Taylor himself saying that he has no intention of standing down, not yet anyway.

That Taylor should have to make such a statement after what he achieved in Pakistan -- both as a batsman and captain -- is sad. It says volumes about the cricket establishment in Australia. This man should be the last one who has to make defensive statements at this time.

Four years after he took over, Taylor is being increasingly seen as a captain only for the Ashes series that begins next month. Or at the maximum for the West Indies tour next year. But has anyone really taken a hard look at the captaincy material available after that?

Steve Waugh is a battler supreme, one who may well consider that he should have had prior claims to the captaincy if only because he was around long before Taylor made his international debut. And Waugh is not exactly a mediocre cricketer.

But as a leader, has he really shown a great deal of potential? Is he in the same mould as Allan Border or Taylor? Or are we looking at somebody more in the mould of Bill Lawry?

Let's look beyond Waugh; he's not exactly a stripling. Who would be there to lead if he did not survive Taylor? Ian Healy? His chances have gone after his lapses in behaviour.

Next? Mark Waugh? Is there anybody who gives him more than 50 percent marks when it comes to leadership? Or Shane Warne? Is he going to make a comeback or not? And if he does, no insults intended, but isn't he that little bit too aggressive? And it's not the Ian Chappell kind of aggressiveness either, the kind that makes a good captain.

Ricky Ponting? Well, his antics in India seem to paint a picture of a cricketer who is not exactly captaincy material. Greg Blewett was once seen as material for the future but now he isn't in the team anymore.

Now can anyone explain why exactly people are in such a hurry to write Taylor's obit as captain?