Joe Root’s On Field Captaincy Legacy On Few Months
One theme arises more clearly than any other whenever you speak to England players or coaches, past or present, about what Joe Root is truly like as a captain.
He Genuinely Cares
Root’s coworkers assume he is concerned about them. Not only on the surface. They claim he genuinely cares about people. It’s no surprise, however, that when questioned about Ben Stokes’ decision to take an indefinite vacation from cricket, Root’s first comments were that he wished his pal well.
As well as being good friends, Stokes and Root are England’s Test captain and vice-captain, respectively. When Root was on paternity leave last year and Stokes captained the opening Test against the West Indies, Root wrote a handwritten letter on his England blazer instructing his friend to do things his way.
“I had a conversation with Ben and that’s when I found out,” Root said. “The call will stay between the two of us but for me, it was hard to see a friend like that. More than anything I just want him to be okay and what was said between us two stays between us two. I think throughout this it’s important for people to respect his privacy to give him the best chance to deal with this in his own way. I just want him to be okay and I’ll be there for him as much as he wants.
“Anyone who knows Ben, he always puts other people in front of himself and first. Now is an opportunity for him to put himself first, to take time to look after himself and get to a good place again. Hopefully, that can be sooner rather than later. Cricket has to be a secondary thought, a long way down the line,
and he should take as much time as he needs. He’s got my full support on that and he’s been assured he’s got the full support of the ECB. And certainly, he’s got the whole team’s support. More than anything, we just want Ben to be OK. He’s got everyone behind him.”
Compassionate and Caring
Root’s team admires him for his sensitive and caring leadership, but this stretch of 10 Tests – five against India and then five in the Ashes – may define his on-field captaincy. He is one win away from surpassing Michael Vaughan as England’s most successful captain, however, his performances have been inconsistent during his tenure, with recent results being disappointing.
Root may resign from his position after the end of the Australian tour, regardless of what transpires in the coming months. Beating a strong Indian squad at home and then Australia on the road would be a long journey.
When asked if the next two series would define his stint as captain, Root answered, “It may do.”
“Ultimately tomorrow could define things, the day after could. I’m sure people will have opinions of me as a captain and my career but as a player, all you can do is look after right now and perform so that’s all I’ll continue to do. Give my best for this team and try to help us win as many Tests as I can.”