As decisions go, it wasn’t a surprising one. Following Alastair Cook stepping down as England Test captain, the hunt was on for a new skipper. Instead of embarking on a long, drawn out process which brought in pretty much every player that has ever turned out for England, the people at the top chose swiftly, and they chose correctly.
Yorkshire batsman Joe Root was not necessarily the only choice available, with Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad both viable candidates, while some did bring up the name of Eoin Morgan, but that would see the limited overs specialist come back into the team and immediately given the captaincy, something that was not likely to happen.
In the end, the incredibly talented and reliable figure of Root was the best choice.
It was a genuine concern though, that giving such a talented player the captaincy can often shackle them. However, England’s victory over South Africa displayed his tactical nous, while his superb 190 in the first innings revealed the fact that his newfound responsibilities are not yet diminishing his batting.
Importantly, Root taking over the role gives England stability going forward considering the new captain is just 26-years-old, while it also allows Alastair Cook to focus on his batting, the strongest string on his bow.
For Cook, having to manage the transition of England on the pitch, while still leading his side with the runs he scored was a difficult proposition. However, for all of his apparent failings, Cook’s average with and without the armband is remarkably similar. The opener was scoring on average 46.53 as captain, and 46.36 without it.
It is incredible to think then, that many were questioning Cook’s ability to juggle runs and leadership when he was scoring at an almost identical rate. With regard to victories, he is the second most successful captain for England, behind Michael Vaughan, with Cook winning 24 of his 59 Tests, compared to Vaughn’s 26 in 51.
Cook’s reign was a successful one then and he doesn’t deserve a lot of the derision he received. Although many will cite that now he is no longer captain, the runs are likely to flow far more regularly.
For Root, the captaincy is unlikely to faze him. While being a very likeable character, he seems like that unflappable sort. His consistent run scoring for both club and country displays this, while his first game as captain was an impressive one. With both bat and the responsibility for the ball, Root led from the front and has taken his first step in proving his ability.
Root’s average currently stands at 53.80 which is a very impressive total. It is very unlikely that being the captain will stunt Root’s fluid approach to batting, with the Yorkshire star England’s classiest batsman. Can he continue his incredible rise whilst captaining his country? Only time will tell.
If he is able to keep this up though then there is not doubt that he can become one of England’s most successful captains considering the glut of talent he will be leading.