Can England’s new test captain plan a Root back to the top?

New England test match captain Joe Root will soon end his five month wait to take charge of his country for the first time. Back in February Alastair Cook left the role after four years service. With England sailing in stormy sea’s in the test game can Root galvanise the team and bring them to glory?

The new leader does not have much time before his side contest the biggest competition in cricket when they travel to Australia in November to compete for the ashes. With Australia and England sitting third and fourth, respectively, in the ICC test team rankings the upcoming clash promises to be a great one.

Root made his debut for England in 2012 in Nagpur, India. He was in the batting line up at number six, further down the order than usually probably to take the pressure off the newcomer. He hit a score of 73 as England struggled to get anything going finishing on 330 all out. They had a lot of starts in the innings but nobody went on to give them a clear advantage. Root was joint top scorer in that innings with Kevin Pietersen. He came in in the second innings and score 20 runs not out as the match was drawn.

A lot has changed since then. Root has made it to 53 tests for his country at his tender age of 26. He has scored runs consistently throughout his time in the team. He averages 52.8 runs an innings which is highly impressive. Root’s highest score came against Pakistan at Old Trafford, were he batted for over ten hours and faced 406 balls for his huge 254, scoring over half of England’s runs for the innings. He has claimed 11 centuries and 27 half centuries. He is good in the field also, taking 65 catches in his time with England. His talents do not end with the bat. He bowls from time to time, his off spin has claimed the  wickets of some good batsmen. He has taken 15 test wickets and can do a job to break a partnership. In all honesty there was no other option for the English Cricket Board when Cook stepped down. Root was the only person in the squad who could do the captain’s job.

Before England and Root can begin to worry about fierce rivals Australia they have to face second ranked team South Africa. The two teams will contest five test matches that will end in mid August. It is suggested that for the first match Root will move down to fourth in the batting order, the position he prefers. Gary Ballance has been recalled to bat at three, Root reportedly pushed for Ballance to be recalled due to their Yorkshire connection. Usual suspects are around the squad, Cook, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Moeen Alli, Stuart Broad and James Anderson are all present for England.

South Africa are also strong and it will be a tough test for England with their new captain being introduced to test cricket with one of the toughest opponents to face. Root is a brilliant player and will undoubtedly lead his men by example. Having experience around him with the likes of Cook, Broad and Anderson is key and they will surely help the young captain whenever he needs it.

It is an exciting time for English cricket. Slipping down the rankings has been a difficult pill to swallow for the proud cricketing nation. Now Root brings new hope. His unbelievable career to this point is proof that he is a natural cricketer. Hopefully he can get the team around him motivated and hit the ground running. Whatever happens against South Africa he is the right man for the job and in the long term he will surely get the English test team moving in the right direction. Hopefully Root can take his side to Australia later in the year and defend the Ashes.

Author: Alan Brown

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