England are confident they have the right captain, and right methods, to take on India in the Royal London Series and on the journey to next winter’s World Cup.
Joe Root spoke defiantly on the eve of the second one-day international in Cardiff in support of Alastair Cook, after former players Graeme Swann and Michael Vaughan questioned the captain’s 50-over credentials.
Swann and Vaughan have been outspoken in their critique of Cook, reasoning his high-70s strike rate at the top of the order will not help England win their first World Cup at the 11th attempt.
Root’s own strike rate is also marginally sub-80 - directly comparable with Cook’s and also Ian Bell’s - and arguably, 32 matches into his ODI career at the age of 23, a work in progress.
The Sheffield man is having none of Vaughan and Swann’s thesis - that England, even after recruiting Alex Hales as a new ‘master blaster’ opening partner for Cook - are woefully short of the firepower required to win ODIs, and certainly global tournaments.
“We’ve got guys like (Eoin) Morgan and (Jos) Buttler down the order who, as you’ve seen, can win games on their own,” said Root.
“We’re in a good place, and this series will be a good judge of that.”
Cook, who proved Vaughan and many others wrong by turning round England’s Test summer, unsurprisingly has Root’s unequivocal support as his team embark on an almost uniterrupted programme of 50-over cricket until the end of the World Cup in New Zealand and Australia next March.
He added: “He’s our leader in one-day cricket as well as Tests; he’s done well over a number of years, and we all back him.
“He’s a fantastic player and has got all of our support.”
Root believes the Cook and Hales contrast may be just what England need to set a winning tone, adding: “His style complements players like Alex Hales, and we hope that can be shown in this series.
“We’re all really excited and want to show what we can do as a one-day outfit.”
England will begin with a clean slate at the SWALEC Stadium on Wednesday, in a series effectively reduced to four matches after the first fixture was washed out in Bristol.
Root has no doubt they will be well-served by a batting line-up for all occasions and conditions - staffed, below Hales who is as yet capped only in the Twenty20 format, by players with Test experience.
“Alex is an explosive player, very exciting to watch - and we’re all looking forward to seeing him do stuff,” added Root.
“I think guys have been picked because they’re very capable of making big scores in one-day series.
“I don’t think there’s much of a problem with the batting.”
Root acknowledges Swann’s right to speak as he sees fit, in his new role after retiring last winter - but England will be taking little account of his views.
“He is paid to give his opinions, and he is entitled to give those,” he said.
“We know as a side where we are at.
“We are comfy, ready to go and we are really looking forward to this series.”
A bustling style and innovative deflections, rather than weight of shot, put momentum in Root’s limited-overs innings.
He will continue to play to those strengths, and will not fret either about the statistical analysis Swann believes constrained England in his playing days - and often did not work either.
“I try not to change too much for one-day cricket, just try to play a few more expansive shots earlier,” added Root.
“I’m not really worried about stats.
“It’s more important to tackle the games individually, assess the situation and conditions and play accordingly.”
It is the bottom line of victory or defeat that counts, Root points out, not the coincidental numbers en route.
“We do everything we can to win the game,” he said.
“You don’t win a game on your individual stats; you win it on making sure you get one more run than the opposition.
“We will be making sure we do everything we can to win, not necessarily to improve our own statistics - we want to win.”
To that end, he insists the current England team is empowered to think on its feet rather than deferring to a statistical gameplan.
“There are certain stats you look at, but we want to be able to go out there with freedom to play and show people what we can do,” he added.
“We have obviously got certain things in place, but we feel that if we get things right and express ourselves the way we want to out in the middle that will take care of itself.
“We have to judge it while we are out there - you weigh things up and do what you think is right for the team.”
Teams for the second Royal London Series match between England and India in Cardiff, starting on Wednesday at 1030am:
England (possible): AN Cook (Captain), AD Hales, IR Bell, JE Root, EJG Morgan, BA Stokes, JC Buttler (wkt), CJ Jordan, JC Tredwell, ST Finn, JM Anderson
India (possible): M Dhoni (Captain, wkt), R Sharma, S Dhawan, V Kohli, A Rahane, A Rayudu, R Jadeja, R Ashwin, B Kumar, M Shami, U Yadav
Umpires: P Reiffel (Aus) and R Illingworth
Third umpire: T Robinson
Match referee: R Madugalle (SL)