Behind the scenes

England lose in the West Indies: ‘end of an era’ for captain Joe Root?

Root wants to continue as skipper but admits the decision is out of his hands

Joe Root’s future as England’s Test cricket captain is once again in question following the series defeat in the West Indies. 

In the third Test in Grenada England were “hammered in three and a half days” following another “chaotic batting collapse”, said the BBC’s cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew. The “thoroughly deflating” ten-wicket defeat meant that Root’s team also lost the series 1-0.

England’s interim management team have “billed this as a new era, talked about a better atmosphere, but in the end it was same old, same old”, Agnew added. With no managing director, no head coach and a “beleaguered captain” hanging on by his fingernails, “you could not help but feel a sense of an end of an era”. 

Root ‘very passionate’ to take team forward 

Including the 4-0 Ashes humiliation in Australia and the loss in the Caribbean, England are now five Test series without a victory, Sky Sports reported. The defeat in the West Indies “completes a run of results in which they have only a solitary Test win to show from their last 17 matches stretching back to February 2021”.

Speaking after the match in Grenada Root said he was determined to continue as England’s Test captain, but admits that the decision is out of his hands. “I’ve made it quite clear at the start of this game and throughout this tour that I’m very passionate about trying to take this team forward,” said Root, who has been captain since 2017. “I will control all I can; I don’t think it’s ever in your hands. I feel like the group are very much behind me. We’re doing a lot of really good things – we just need to turn that into results now.”

Paul Collingwood, England’s interim head coach, has backed Root to continue as skipper. “You can see all of the players, the management and Joe himself have got the determination to take this team forward and get results,” Collingwood said. “If I was stood here and didn’t think that, then there would be a problem. The leadership doesn’t affect his batting, he is still going out there and scoring the runs. And he is desperate to turn things around and make this team the best it can be – simple as that.”

Root’s captaincy is ‘untenable’ 

While Collingwood is backing the skipper to stay on, The Times’s chief cricket correspondent Mike Atherton believes the defeat makes Root’s captaincy “untenable” and “it’s time to end the delusion”. Atherton, a former England captain, said it “was obvious to anyone who was in Australia, and should have been obvious to anyone who wasn’t, Root has reached the end of the road as captain”. 

The time has come for a change at the top, said former England skipper Nasser Hussain in the Daily Mail. England’s defeat by the West Indies “should signal the end of Joe Root’s captaincy... he is a world-class batsman and a likeable lad but the team needs tougher characters”. 

Michael Vaughan, another ex-England captain, agrees that Root should go. “Joe is without question the best role model England cricket has in terms of how he bats, prepares and carries himself,” Vaughan said in The Telegraph. “But his captaincy has not been good enough. Tactically he consistently misses a trick.”

Time to give Stokes a go? 

If Root’s spell as captain does come to an end then “who do you go for?”, asked former England player Jonathan Trott. “It is really tricky,” Trott said on BT Sport. “That’s the conundrum that England cricket finds themselves in. There’s no one really coming forward.” 

With Root “hanging on to the Test captaincy by grim death”, maybe now is the time to appoint all-rounder Ben Stokes, said Will Macpherson in the London Evening Standard. “It is worth wondering if Stokes, fiercely loyal, would agree to take over from his great friend Root if he was fired. Stokes is not a perfect candidate, or guaranteed to improve things. But it is time to give him a go.”

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