Joe Root's England tenure comes under fresh scrutiny as Michael Vaughan says captaincy "hasn't been good enough"
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A number of leading pundits and commentators have called for Root to relinquish the captaincy, despite the lack of viable alternatives. Ben Stokes is England’s only other world-class player in the team currently and is understood to be reluctant to add to his already-busy workload as a premier batsman and key bowler.
Root, aged 31, has been in the role for five years and has led his country 64 times – a national record. No captain in England’s history has won as many Test matches, breaking Vaughan’s record, and Root has had to deal with a challenging period in which players have been confined to ‘bubbles’ throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and his best players have often been rested in key periods to manage their workloads.
Root’s personal form has also flourished in recent times, but England have won just one of their last 17 Test matches and fell to a 1-0 defeat to the West Indies in their most recent series.
“Ultimately we have to ask how much worse will England be if Joe Root is no longer the captain?” wrote Vaughan in his column for the Daily Telegraph.
“What are we going to miss? We are not going to miss his runs because he will keep scoring those. Are we going to miss his tactics in the middle? No.
“I just look at him as a human being. It is hard being England captain. It drains the life out of you.
“My advice is: do not just carry on because it is the greatest honour of your life to lead your country.
“Joe is without question the best role model England cricket has in terms of how he bats, prepares and carries himself. You want kids around the country aspiring to be Joe Root the player.
“But his captaincy has not been good enough. There has been some good stuff. He has scored a lot of runs and that is rare for captains. But there has been a lot of bad stuff too. Tactically he consistently misses a trick.
“Joe has to ask himself if he has the energy to drive himself for the next year and a half. Are the team listening? The evidence suggests not.”
Root sees Vaughan as something of a mentor, with the pair having a similar pathway into the England team via Sheffield Collegiate CC and the Yorkshire side. But Kevin Pietersen, another former England skipper, believes replacing Root would not fix the key issue – that, in his view, the national Test side is simply not good enough.
"As a captain you are only as good as your players," Pietersen told Talksport.
“My question is who is going to take over and who is going to do a better job with these players that they have got?
"Forget Joe Root, it is about the players. Who is going to do a better job with the calibre of player that is playing Test cricket for England? It is not Joe Root's fault.
"Don't point fingers at Root; understand the setup. The setup stinks."