Kolkata: In what seemed to be an obvious choice after Alastair Cook stepped down from the captaincy of the English Test team, star middle-order batsman Joe Root was appointed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) as the new Test captain of the national side. The ECB has also named hard-hitting all-rounder Ben Stokes as Root’s deputy in the Test team.
Root, 26, who is also the best batsman in England, was earlier, the vice-captain of the Cook-led Test side. In an ECB statement, the Yorkshire batsman, after being named the captain, said that he was “privileged, humbled and very excited,” He also said, “It is a huge honour to be given the England Test captaincy.”
The right- hander, who made his debut in the December of 2012 has had an impressive record in Test cricket so far. He has amassed a total of 4594 runs in 53 test matches and it is well complemented by an impressive average of 52.84. No wonder he is the number 3 ranked batsman in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test batsman rankings. He thus takes over Cook, who is England’s all-time leading run scorer in Test cricket and has captained the national side for a record of 59 Test matches.
With an abundance of test match experience in the English team in the form of former skipper Cook, fast bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad and with the presence of coach Trevor Bayliss and his assistant Paul Farbrace, Root would find an ideal platform to grow more in stature as a skipper and use the experience and knowledge of the above mentioned cricketers to good effect.
Root said, “We have a very good group of players, and I’m looking forward to leading them out in the summer — building on Alastair’s achievements and making the most of our talents in the years ahead,” He further added, “The senior guys in the changing room play a very influential role – and while there’s a natural progression for me, it’s a huge support to know that they are there to help and advise.”
A former skipper of the English Test team and the current director of ECB, Andrew Strauss was all praise for the talented Yorkshire batsman.. Staruss said, “Joe is the right man to be our next Test Captain and I’m thrilled that he has accepted the role.”
Struss went on to say, “Making his debut in 2012 at the age of 21 and going on to establish himself as one of the premier batsmen in all forms of the game in such a short period of time demonstrates his drive, determination, cricketing intelligence and an ability to learn that will serve him well in his new role.” The former English captain also added, “He is universally respected by his team mates, passionate about driving the Test team forward and extremely excited about the prospect of leading his country.”
With Root named captain of the English Test side, he joins the list of elite batsmen in the form of Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson, who are not only talented cricketers, but also excellent leaders.
Root, however would have to fly with the team to the West Indies for a three-match ODI series against the T20 World champions. His first assignment as Test captain would begin at home against South Africa. An embarrassing defeat in the hands of India now leaves a lot on Root’s shoulders to help England regain some of its lost pride in Test cricket.
(With inputs from AFP)