Today marked the end of a fine captaincy era as England skipper for 5 years, Alastair Cook, stepped from his role with immediate effect. The Test series in India which concluded in December last year turned out to be his last. The decision did not come as surprise. There were debates about his future as the captain. The experts saw it coming. Joe Root is anticipated to his immediate successor. Many contemplated it and wanted to witness it happen as soon as possible. ECB has announced that they will come up with the replacement within a fortnight.
Chances are strong that Joe Root might be the next England captain. But, at 26, Root is still inexperienced and could have learned a bit more. To speak as a traditionalist, giving him Test responsibility straight away without any experience of leading side in any format would be not logical. Most of his counterparts, be it Kohli or Kane Williamson assumed the role only after leading in the shorter format.
Maybe the above-mentionedd reasons could be completely wrong given England’s policy of having format specific skippers which definitely makes Root the best option.
He is mature and carries good temperament, just like Cook. But, he will inherit a Test team which is in a sort of transitional phase. Putting the responsibility of being at the helm of the affairs can be hectic for Root who as batsman is still peaking. While Cook thrived with this role, same cannot be estimated for Root as well. He may have some maturity at a young age and look like the one who embraces challenges, but early failures may polish of the boyish grin that accompanies him all the time.
England tour West Indies followed by home series against South Africa and West Indies. Then comes the big Ashes tour to Australia next year in January. This schedule can be a tricky Test for him. The first thought is that the current English team will succeed well and isn’t totally inexperienced. But, with England still trying to infuse players who could possibly replace the likes of Cook and Anderson, they might end up being in a phase of struggle. Critics and fans obviously don’t understand anything when you are losing matches.
Also, it’s hard to say why he couldn’t continue doing the job. At 32, he could have continued bit ore. He has faced quite a bit of harsh challenges in the past. Maybe he could have let this one pass as well before making a decision.
He faced a few tough situation as a leader of the pack in the past. One can remember the 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia. But the 4-0 loss to India really finished him and forcing him to make up mind on taking the ‘big’ decision. Unfortunately, maybe deep down he knew what was left in him which may have convinced him to move on.
Cook perhaps may have done a favor by dropping off responsibility. While stats do suggest that captaincy brought the best performances of his career, Cook’s love for batting and penchant of scoring big would remain unaffected. Batting was obsession and captaincy a duty – he mentions in his autobiography. The left-hander would be keenly looking for the second half of his career now.
As usual the perks of ‘no-longer being’ a captain are quite well known. He would no longer be exhausted with the duty to answer. He can take the back seat, play with a free mind and enjoy his game more. There seems no way that he would lose his importance in the team. His importance surely would remain intact in the future. At least, until the time England is able to find someone who can replace his spot at the top of the batting order. Until then he can add his 140 Test caps, amass more runs in his tally and continue being the backbone of the Test side for as long long as he can serve.
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