Joe Root calls time on his England Test cricket captaincy

The timing may have been a shock, coming as it did “early on Good Friday”, said Mike Atherton in The Times. But there was nothing surprising about the decision itself. The utter woefulness of England’s recent performances – they’ve lost 11 of their last 17 Test matches – has finally forced Joe Root to acknowledge what most people have known for a while: that his time was up as England captain.

Root has been in the job for five years, making him England’s longest-serving captain, said Ali Martin in The Guardian. And he leaves it with a curiously mixed record: he is the captain with the most Test victories (27), but also the most defeats (26). Some of his achievements have been highly impressive, notably the series wins in South Africa and India, and he has been an “unimpeachable ambassador for the English game”, but he never realised his ultimate ambition of “being an Ashes-winning captain”. 

Root is a “man of utmost decency” who has often excelled in the pastoral side of captaincy, said Alan Gardner on ESPNcricinfo. When Ben Stokes unexpectedly withdrew from the Test squad last summer, he offered an impeccably judged message of support. His relationship with his bowlers has been “more complex”, however. By over-bowling Jofra Archer in 2019, he arguably contributed to the elbow injury that may well end the fast bowler’s Test career. He has also been criticised for mishandling his “seam bowling totems, James Anderson and Stuart Broad”. 

One undoubted plus to Root’s resignation is that it will enable him to concentrate all his energies on his batting, said Oliver Brown in The Daily Telegraph. Although early in his captaincy Root performed superbly, the “strain” has started to take a toll. Still only 31, he should have another “five prime years ahead of him”: there is no good reason why he “cannot return to the glories of his pomp”.

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