James Anderson admits captaincy changed Joe Root relationship – but Root got the best out of him

England’s greatest ever bowler James Anderson has spoken candidly about his relationship with Joe Root, admitting the Sheffield-born batsman’s elevation to Test captaincy tested their friendship.
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The veteran Lancastrian, who is facing an uncertain future in international cricket having been dropped alongside Stuart Broad for the side’s series defeat in the West Indies earlier this year, also said he had enjoyed his best form for England while playing under Root’s guidance.

Anderson took 170 of his 640 Test scalps in 46 Tests under Root’s captaincy, a captaincy that ended after he stepped down from the role last week after a run of one defeat in 17 matches.

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Doing the rounds in calling the players who had featured most heavily in his near five-year stint as skipper, Root spoke to Anderson, who revealed the nature of the conversation.

Sheffield-born Joe Root (left) stepped aside as England Test captain earlier this month.Sheffield-born Joe Root (left) stepped aside as England Test captain earlier this month.
Sheffield-born Joe Root (left) stepped aside as England Test captain earlier this month.

“I thanked him because I think it's not a coincidence that statistically my best years as a bowler have been under his captaincy,” said Anderson on BBC's Tailenders podcast.

“A lot is said about myself and Stuart under his captaincy, there's been a lot talked about in that respect, but for me, I think I have performed at my best under his captaincy.

“I thanked him as well for his support throughout the last few years. He's someone who's been every encouraging to me about carrying on playing.

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“He wanted to get the most out of me as a bowler. He rested me at times to try and make sure I could just keep going for as long as I possibly could. So there's a lot of mutual respect there and for me he's always been a really good mate as well.”

Much has been made of Root’s relationship with Anderson and Broad, with dots joined after the latter pair’s time out of the Test squad.

Any fractures in the relationship have been refuted on both sides, though the Lancastrian legend admitted he is looking forward to reinstating a closer friendship in years to come.

“The deeper he has got into the captaincy the harder it's been to be as matey as we probably were,” Anderson said.

“But hopefully that'll now be easier to get back on those matey terms.”