In Depth

Joe Root takes over as England Test cricket captain

Yorkshire batsman replaces Alastair Cook, with all-rounder Ben Stokes appointed vice-captain

Joe Root is the new captain of the England cricket team, taking over from Alastair Cook. He was confirmed in the role by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) this morning.                                                                                             

"[Andrew] Strauss, the team director, chose Root after canvassing the opinion of other senior players including Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler," reports Nick Hoult of the Daily Telegraph, which broke the news ahead of the announcement. 

"Ben Stokes is expected to be named vice-captain as the new generation of England players takes over formal leadership roles."

The paper adds: "Root turned 26 in December and is young by England captaincy standard. He has little captaincy experience beyond a few games for Yorkshire but that is the nature of modern cricket with the international schedule crowding the calendar. But he has played 53 Tests and has been England’s leading player for the last two years and was appointed Cook's deputy in 2015."

The appointment comes as no surprise. Root was "the standout candidate among the emerging generation of players," says Ali Martin of The Guardian, and he "will now look to drive the team forward". He will take charge of his first Test at Lord's in July, against South Africa.

"There will naturally be concerns as to how the additional responsibilities that come with the captaincy will affect Root's returns, not least since he remains a key player for England in all three formats and became a father in January," adds Martin.

But he notes the Yorkshire batsman "has risen to most challenges since making his Test debut in Nagpur in late 2012" and is ranked the third best batsman in the world.

"England will hope the additional responsibility brings a greater ruthlessness to his game – just three of his last 17 scores in excess of 50 having been converted into hundreds – and that his time back in the ranks of the one-day and Twenty20 sides, under captain Eoin Morgan, will prevent the role from being all-consuming."

Cook, who was in charge for four and a half years, stood down last week following the 4-0 series defeat in India. His side lost eight of 17 Tests in 2016.

Alastair Cook felt 'let down' by ECB over Kevin Pietersen

8 February

Alastair Cook has said he felt "let down" by the England Cricket Board over the way they dealt with the sacking of Kevin Pietersen in 2014.

A day after he announced he was stepping down as captain of the Test side, the 32-year-old Cook gave an interview to Sky Sports in which he discussed the controversy surrounding Pietersen, who was dismissed from the England squad exactly three years ago.

Despite having amassed 13,7979 runs in 104 Tests, the South African-born batsman was informed his services were no longer required following allegations of breaches of team discipline.

The decision, "unanimous" among the England management, unleashed a storm of protest among cricket supporters, with celebrity fan Piers Morgan describing Cook as "a repulsive little weasel".

One of Cook's predecessors, Michael Vaughan, also expressed his dismay at the way Pietersen had been treated, tweeting: "Would love to know what he does that is unmanageable. Think the ECB have to explain to everyone exactly what Pietersen has done so we can all have clarity and reasoning."

In conversation with Nasser Hussain at Lord's on Tuesday, Cook said of the furore: "It was obviously a big part of my captaincy. I felt like it wasn't handled particularly well from the ECB. I was the lightning rod for it. Every person thought it was my decision and I felt I bore the brunt of that, unfairly in my personal opinion."

Cook admitted he was "part of the decision making" on whether to axe Pietersen but said there were as many as seven other people involved. "I didn't have the final trigger. I felt I was the only person who made the decision. I felt a little bit let down by the ECB in that one period where they left me out to dry a little bit."

When asked by Sky Sports if his reign as captaincy would be remembered as much for the Pietersen controversy as for his two Ashes series wins, Cook said: "I don't think it will... but that's all gone now. It's part and parcel of the challenges of being captain. I can't say now I have any regrets. I've tried - whether I've got it right or wrong - to do what's best for English cricket at that time."

'Drained' Alastair Cook steps down as England Test captain

7 February

Alastair Cook resigned as England Test captain on Monday after the job had left him "drained".

Announcing his decision, the 32-year-old said: "Stepping down has been an incredibly hard decision but I know this is the correct decision for me and at the right time for the team."

Adding that playing for England is "a privilege", Cook said: "I hope to carry on as a Test player, making a full contribution and helping the next England captain and the team however I can."

England's director of cricket Andrew Strauss, who did the job himself for 50 Test matches, said Cook "was getting drained by the relentlessness of being England captain".

The Essex batsman succeeded Strauss in August 2012 and led his country in a record 59 Test matches. There were some highs – notably the Ashes victories in 2013 and 2015 – but also some lows, including last year's 4-0 series defeat in India.

Cook is England's highest run-scorer in Test cricket, accumulating 11,057 runs in 140 matches, and his reliability at the top of the order will be key to whoever takes over as captain.

As to who that might be, Strauss told Sky Sports one of the contenders for the job, Yorkshire batsman Joe Root, wouldn't be ruled out because of his lack of captaincy experience at county level.

"The reality in this day and age [is] it is very hard for England players to get a great deal of county captaincy experience," said Strauss. "There is only so much you can do to prepare for the job, and playing in the England set-up for a number of years, understanding the demands of international cricket, that is really important."

The 26-year-old Root has led a team on only 19 occasions, but his intelligence, demeanour and talent single him out as a strong candidate to succeed Cook.

However, Strauss stressed the ECB won't be rushed into making a decision, given that England don't play their first Test of the summer until July when they face South Africa over four matches.

"There is a process to go through," said Strauss. "Now is a chance for myself and the selectors and the coach to have conversations and get an understanding of who the right person is, what their philosophy is and how they intend to take the England team forward, so that when we come to announce the new captain, we are clear he is the right man."

Asked when a successor might be announced, he said: "We hope to be in a position to name the new Test captain before the team head off to the one-day tour to the West Indies on the 22 February.

"That gives the new captain time to get used to the idea. It is quite a nice gap and I think he will benefit from that time."

Strauss then expressed his gratitude to Cook for all he has done for English cricket in the last four and a half years.

"You only have to speak to the people under him to realise what an impact he has had on them," he said.

"It has taken a huge amount of character and resolve to get through some quite turbulent times. He has that empathy with what people have been through. He really cares about English cricket and his teammates, the support staff, and that is why he will be remembered so fondly by those he played with."

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