Sheffield’s Joe Root confident of England captaincy credentials but still hopes Alastair Cook stays on

Joe Root: Became a father last week
Joe Root: Became a father last week
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Joe Root is in no rush to assume another new position of responsibility having just become a father for the first time but is confident he has “something to offer” should Alastair Cook step down as England captain.

Root welcomed baby Alfred to the world on January 7 and spent four days with him and partner Carrie before duty called and he boarded a flight to India to link up with the limited-overs squad.

He was immediately back in the groove during Sunday’s first one-day international in Pune, top-scoring for the tourists with 78 only to watch as the peerless Virat Kohli made a 27th ODI century to take his side past a formidable target of 351.

As if he did not have enough to think about there has also been mounting speculation that Cook is pondering resigning as Test skipper, a move that would lead inevitably to Root’s promotion from vice-captain.

The pair have been in contact but Root insists that babies were the only topic of conversation, with Cook’s second child being born in October. Root is unequivocal about wanting Cook to remain in the post and believes he has earned the right to determine his own fate after four years at the sharp end.

“I’ve spoken to Cooky a couple of times but it’s always been ‘how’s the baby doing? How are things going? Do you need any help?’,” said Root.

“He’s been really good in that respect. There were a couple of texts over Christmas asking how the family is and he’s been checking up to see how I’m getting on and how Carrie is. As far as the captaincy is concerned I’m clueless about what’s going on.

“It’s completely out of my hands, it’s a decision for Cooky to make. There’s lots of speculation about it happening soon but the next Test match isn’t until the middle of summer. Cooky deserves to be given some space and a bit of time to make his choice.

“I just hope he makes a decision he’s happy with and as a player I really would like to see him continue as captain because I think he’s a great leader and he can take this team forward.”

Root’s insouciance at the prospect of inheriting the greatest honour in English cricket is genuine and possibly stems from the fact he knows the job will be his at some stage. He has been the heir apparent for some time and it is not a ‘now or never’ issue for a player who is still just 26.

As with fatherhood, he sees it as a challenge to be embraced when the moment comes.

“It’s one of those things you have to learn on the job. Being a dad you don’t know what to do until you just sort of go with it and see how it goes,” he said.

“I imagine that it would be very similar. I’d like to think I could do it, I’ve got a lot of experience behind me now in Test cricket and I feel that I would have something to offer but hopefully it won’t come to that. Cooky’s a great leader. We’ll see what happens.”

Root says talks were had about him skipping the current India trip to stay with his newly expanded family but, having already been rested against Bangladesh at the start of the winter, he opted to travel.

Regular FaceTime sessions are helping him through and he has already made a decision not to spend more time away during the Indian Premier League. Unlike Ben Stokes, Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan, among others, he will not be taking part in next month’s auction, despite strong interest among the franchises.

“I would love to play in the IPL and it’s a shame because this is a really good window in the international calendar,” he said.

“But having just had a little baby and spending a lot of time away, especially next winter looking at the schedule, it’s a great opportunity to spend some time at home with the family and enjoy watching him grow up a little bit.

“It’s quite tough being away these early days and missing all that so it will be nice to spend some time at home. A lot of great things would come from the IPL, a lot of great experiences and I’m sure it will help to improve my game but at the moment this is my priority and I want to make sure that’s something I don’t miss out on.”