A tour of India makes a good time for Alastair Cook to take over as Test captain. There aren't huge expectations weighing on him as England have lost six Tests this year already.
He may be young, at 27, but he is experienced. In fact I can't think of an England captain who took over after playing more Tests than Cook has. I had played about 30 when I took over, Andrew Strauss about 50 and Nasser Hussain the same. Cook has played more than 80 Tests.
So he is tactically aware and has seen it all before. He has also started well in the one-day job and can take confidence from being the England captain in two formats. When you are only captain of the one-day team, you don't really feel you are in charge.
Cook is also lucky in that he has got Kevin Pietersen coming back into the side with a point to prove. It is a bit like when he started his England career when I was captain, and because of his Indian Premier League career KP will be even keener to prove a point in India than anywhere else.
Cook has to create a togetherness and fighting spirit, which can be easier to achieve in the subcontinent when everything is stacked against you. He has had to deal with a lot of politics and factions, and now is the perfect time to start afresh.
What Cook has to do is lead from the front with the bat and make big scores. Andy Flower and the other coaches do so much of the background work in the nets and meetings that everything is set in place for the England captain to perform.
The captain will wake up some mornings and wonder if he has 11 fit players. It is not only stomach bugs but injuries which seem to happen in India more than anywhere else, as we have seen with Steve Finn and Stuart Broad already.
Even so, Cook will have his vision of where he wants England to be, both at the end of this tour and in the long term. In India, above all, he will want his team to compete. Against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates England were blown away a couple of times by their spinners, Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman: they almost panicked and were bowled out cheaply. This time he will want to see calmness and control in England's batting.
India is the best place in the world to practise against spin: you can always find millions of spinners in the nets. But in the pressure-cooker out in the middle it is always a different game.
Cook has a new opening partner in Nick Compton but they have opened in a couple of the warm-up games and it doesn't take long to build up a new association. And it is good for England to have one left-handed and one right-handed opener again.
Cook should be fine against the spinners but he will have to see off Zaheer Khan first. He may have lost a bit of pace but he is right up there in terms of skill, and he can swing it away from Cook. Zaheer can pull him across the crease, then swing or nip one back in when Cook's head is falling over to the offside and he plays round his front pad. Cook must not let Zaheer get into his head.
In the field, as captain, you have to be prepared to set defensive fields in India and keep the game quiet for long periods, then go for the jugular when the conditions change and the ball starts doing something. The pitch can be a road for three days then deteriorate rapidly.
It is going to be particularly difficult for Cook to stay calm and keep his head when Virender Sehwag is smashing it around. At least he can draw on his experience when he captained England in Bangladesh and Tamim Iqbal almost smashed a hundred in a session. Cook will be in a better position if it happens again. Giving the batsman the sort of bowling he likes least is key everywhere in Test cricket but all the more so in India, and Cook, with the help of the analysts, will have to identify quickly what their batsmen like least. Don't fret too much about Sachin Tendulkar because he is orthodox and just aim for his off stump; and get Graeme Swann on early at Gautam Gambhir - Swann got him in his first over in Test cricket the last time England played in India.
Virat Kohli looks to me to be the best player of the lot. It may be worth giving him a few short balls, but on Indian pitches they take so much out of the bowlers that you can't overdo it.
Above all, Cook has to be himself, whatever that is. Not Strauss, or Nasser, or me.