England captain Joe Root ready to bat at No 3, says James Anderson and Stuart Broad can return
Joe Root on batting at No 3: "I think I am the person to bat slightly higher up and, if we do lose an early wicket, show a bit of leadership, take the game on and lay a platform for us"; captain says omission from West Indies tour does not mean the end for James Anderson and Stuart Broad
Last Updated: 23/02/22 6:35pm
Joe Root feels he can help make England a better team by batting at No 3 and also stressed that James Anderson and Stuart Broad's international careers are not over.
Test captain Root will make the jump from No 4 to first drop on next month's three-Test tour of the West Indies as England look to rally from their 4-0 Ashes drubbing in Australia.
The 31-year-old has previously been reluctant to bat at No 3, where he averages 38.66 in 30 matches, instead of No 4, where his record is a more stellar 51.27 from 62 Tests and from where he scored all but 33 of his 1,708 runs in Test cricket in 2021.
Root's squad will not include Anderson and Broad, who have been omitted despite amassing a combined 1,177 wickets across their Test careers, and the skipper hopes that allows others to step up as England seek a first Test series win in the West Indies since 2004 and just a second since 1968.
On his move to No 3, Root said: "I am ready for that - it's the first time it has sat really comfortably with me. I have a lot of clarity, a better understanding of my game.
"I have expressed in the past that I prefer batting at No 4 but I am ready to take that on now. I think that's the best way I can help us become a better team. I feel I have the skills to bat in that position.
"I am very comfortable in the way I have been performing over the last year or so and I think it is the right fit for this team.
"I think I am the person to bat slightly higher up and, if we do lose an early wicket, show a bit of leadership, responsibility, take the game on and hopefully lay a platform for us to bat around.
"I am relishing that challenge. In the past I have probably looked at it in a slightly different way and it has not really fitted me but I am at ease with that now and looking forward to it."
Sky Sports' Michael Atherton said Root was "lucky" to remain Test captain after the Ashes thrashing and the Yorkshireman is "grateful" to have been retained in the role.
He said: "I am grateful to have the opportunity to do that as captain. I didn't waver [in my belief I was the right man for the job]. I am very passionate about taking this team forward and have not put a time limit on [how long I will do it].
"There is a lot of hard work ahead but I am very much looking forward to that challenge. This is a real chance for guys to step up and take the chances presented to them, me included.
"We have won once in the West Indies in a very long time and that mentality of 'we could do something special' is going to be really important. That excites me."
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Broad and Anderson have both publicly voiced their disappointment at being left out of the Test series in the Caribbean and Root stopped short of saying whether he agreed with the decision to omit England's two most prolific Test bowlers of all time.
He expects both to be "very much in the mix" at the start of the English summer but now wants the seamers on the trip to the West Indies - Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson, Craig Overton, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Fisher - to gain experience.
Root said: "I have spoken to Jimmy and Stuart and they are obviously disappointed, angry. Stuart, in particular, has voiced that quite publicly. You would expect that.
"I have a huge amount of respect for them and it has been made very clear that no one is saying this is the end for them.
It was a disappointing tour and we massively underperformed. We have to use the opportunity for a fresh start, a bit of a reset, and a chance to take things forward.
Joe Root on The Ashes
"When it comes to decisions, I don't think we should have to air every bit of information. It was a discussion point for long period of time and the decision has been made.
"It would be great to see them very much in the mix at the start of the summer but those guys aren't on this tour and my focus is on the guys that are and making sure they are clear on their roles.
"Guys on the tour have the opportunity to step into some slightly different roles, grow themselves and strengthen what could be the backbone of this team moving forward.
"Jimmy and Stuart have taken the new ball for such a long time, been leaders of the attack, and done an extremely good job but this an opportunity for other guys to step into that space and become leaders. It's furthering that knowledge and broadening things.
"If we come away from this tour as victors, we have gained a lot of knowledge on other players. With Jimmy and Broady to come back into things, we are in a really strong position."
Root also spoke about the late-night drinking session he and Anderson enjoyed with Australia players after the fifth Ashes Test, which was broken up by police after a noise complaint was received.
He added: "Clearly it didn't look very good. We wanted to catch up with the opposition and talk through things and learn from them.
"I was having a deep conversation with (Australia spinner) Nathan Lyon who I have known for a long time.
"We may have overstepped the mark slightly and I apologise if that was the case. In no way did we mean any offence or want to show cricket in a bad light."
England play West Indies in Barbados (March 8-12) followed by games in Antigua (March 16-20) and Grenada (March 24-28).