Politics beckons for Andrew Strauss?
Rumours that outgoing England cricket captain Andrew Strauss could turn his attentions to politics are swirling around Westminster.
The 35-year-old unexpectedly retired from all forms of professional cricket this lunchtime, prompting a wave of speculation about his likely future.
He has a track record of actively supporting the Conservatives via fundraisers. In February 2011, shortly after winning the Ashes, a bidder paid £25,000 at a Tory fundraising auction for the privilege of a round of golf with Strauss and 11 guests.
Bookmaker Ladbrokes is offering 16/1 that Strauss becomes an MP at or before the next general election.
The 'before' qualifier is significant: his first opportunity would come in the Corby by-election on November 15th, when Labour local government think-tanker Andy Sawford is expected to oust the replacement to outgoing Tory MP Louise Mensch.
Sawford's sure-fire victory would become less of a certainty if Strauss were to step up to the plate in Friday's selection meeting.
"I couldn't rule out voting for Andrew Strauss as a Conservative candidate if the rumours were to be true," Corby borough councillor Rob McKellar told the Northampton Chronicle newspaper.
"I would like our next MP to be somebody who lives in the constituency and who has Corby and East Northamptonshire at heart.
"But that is not to say a high-profile candidate couldn't achieve this, while raising the profile of the area at the same time."
Not all were quite so excited by the idea, however. One councillor told politics.co.uk: "I don't mind cricket but I don't follow it."
Another councillor, David Sims, said Corby needed a candidate "who has really got Corby in their heart".
"This election's going to be very hard for us for obvious reasons, but I do think politics is about people – and sometimes politicians from all parties forget that. My view is it has to be someone local, and if we get the right candidate then we can make some progress."
Sims said he feared the other parties were "streets ahead" of the Conservatives in terms of their preparations for the coming campaign.
"Louise Mensch, whether you like her or not, didn't neutralise the Labour vote," he added. "There'll be a protest vote against Louise and a protest vote against the government – it's going to be difficult."
Mensch officially ended her 28-month career as an MP today, after chancellor George Osborne confirmed she had been appointed steward and bailiff of the manor of Northstead – the procedure used for retiring MPs.
Ladbrokes initially offered just 50/1 that Strauss would stand in Corby. That seemed an accurate assessment: the England captain said in this lunchtime's press conference that he would take some time to think what "challenges" he would like to take up in the future – and suggested that he wanted some sort of role in cricket.
But by late afternoon the bookies had halved those odds to just 25/1.