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‘Excited’ Joe Root wants to build on Alastair Cook’s success as England captain

Joe Root, previously England’s vice-captain, had been the overwhelming favourite to take over from Alastair Cook, who resigned as Test skipper last week after a national record 59 matches in charge. Root was officially named the skipper on Monday

cricket Updated: Feb 13, 2017 20:53 IST
Joe Root,Alastair Cook,England cricket team
Joe Root was named as Alastair Cook’s successor as England Test team captain by the ECB on Monday. (PTI)

Joe Root said he felt “privileged, humbled and very excited” after being given the “huge honour” of being named England’s new Test captain.

One of the worst kept secrets in English sport was finally made public Monday when the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that Root had been made Test captain in succession to Alastair Cook.

The Yorkshire batsman, previously England’s vice-captain, had been the overwhelming favourite to take over from Cook, who resigned as Test skipper last week after a national record 59 matches in charge.

“It is a huge honour to be given the England Test captaincy,” the 26-year-old Root said in an ECB statement.

“I feel privileged, humbled and very excited,” added Root, who made his Test debut under Cook and is now regarded as England’s leading batsman.

Meanwhile the ECB said all-rounder Ben Stokes would succeed Root as vice-captain of the Test side.

Cook, England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer, is set to continue his international career and could play under Root during the 2017/18 Ashes in Australia, as well as this year’s home series against South Africa and the West Indies.

Root will also be able to call upon the experience of new-ball duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad, as well as coach Trevor Bayliss.

“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,” said Root.

“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.”

Andrew Strauss, the ECB’s director of cricket, added: “Joe is the right man to be our next Test captain and I’m thrilled that he has accepted the role.”

Root, who has little in the way of senior leadership experience behind him, will have several months to prepare for his first match as captain, with England’s next Test not starting until July 6, when they face South Africa at Lord’s.

England will be looking to bounce back after a difficult 2016 in Test cricket, with Cook resigning following a 4-0 series defeat in India at the end of last year.

Prior to the South Africa series, England’s programme will consist solely of limited overs fixtures, including June’s Champions Trophy one-day tournament on home soil.

Last week, Strauss made it clear he wanted Eoin Morgan to remain as England’s one-day international and Twenty20 captain.

‘Admirable qualities’

Root has an impressive Test average of nearly 53 in 53 matches. He scored the first of his 11 Test hundreds at Headingley, his Yorkshire home ground, in May 2013 and currently has a total of 4,594 Test runs.

He has also become a mainstay of the England side in all three international formats, prompting concerns about his workload.

But Strauss was in no doubt Root, whom he said had accepted “immediately” after he was asked to be England captain last week, was the right man for the job.

“Joe has shown a number of admirable qualities in his Test career so far,” said Strauss.

“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.

“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.”

As for appointing the sometimes fiery Stokes as vice-captain, Strauss said he had “real presence and influence”, adding: “I have no doubts that the responsibility will also help Ben to continue his rapid rise as a world class all-rounder.”

Root became a father for the first time last month but flew out days after the birth of his son Alfred to join England on their ODI tour of India.

He is due to travel again next week when England head to the West Indies for a three-match ODI series.

First Published: Feb 13, 2017 20:53 IST