Joe Root steps down as England Test captain
Joe Root steps down holding the record for having the most matches and wins as an England men's Test captain; Root, who replaced Sir Alastair Cook as skipper in 2017, says he "looks forward to helping the next captain"
Last Updated: 16/04/22 7:05am
Joe Root has stepped down as England Test captain.
The 31-year-old, who succeeded Sir Alastair Cook as captain in 2017, ends his tenure with the most matches (64) and wins (27) as an England men's Test skipper.
Root's decision follows a run of just one win in England's last 17 Test matches, stretching back to February 2021, which ended with a series defeat in the West Indies last month.
"After returning from the Caribbean tour and having time to reflect, I have decided to step down as England men's Test captain," Root said in a statement.
"It has been the most challenging decision I have had to make in my career but having discussed this with my family and those closest to me; I know the timing is right.
"I am immensely proud to have captained my country and will look back on the past five years with enormous pride. It has been an honour to have done the job and to have been a custodian of what is the pinnacle of English cricket.
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"I have loved leading my country, but recently it's hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me and the impact it has had on me away from the game.
"I am excited to continue representing the Three Lions and producing performances that will enable the team to succeed. I look forward to helping the next captain, my team-mates and coaches in whatever way I can."
Root oversaw several successes during his captaincy, including a 4-1 home series victory over India in 2018, and away triumphs against South Africa and Sri Lanka.
The Yorkshire batter is currently England's second-highest Test run-scorer of all time, trailing only Cook, while Root's 14 centuries as skipper helped him to a record tally of 5,295 runs for an England captain.
His resignation follows the sackings of England men's cricket managing director Ashley Giles and head coach Chris Silverwood, with the pair dismissed before the West Indies tour after a humbling 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia over the winter.
Team-mates hail 'extraordinary' Root
With Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood currently holding interim positions in the respective roles, a decision over Root's future as skipper had been expected once permanent appointments were made.
Vice-captain Ben Stokes, who is the leading contender to replace Root, was one of several of Root's past and present team-mates to pay tribute on social media.
"Been a great ride with you my friend," Stokes posted on Instagram. "Watching one of my great mates lead us all out on to the field was a privilege. You have given everything to English cricket and we all want to say thank you for your sacrifices and hard work."
James Anderson, England's all-time leading wicket-taker, backed Root to cement himself as one of England's all-time greats even after making the "most challenging" decision to step down as captain.
"It's been a pleasure to be part of Joe Root's England side," Anderson wrote on Instagram.
"The way he's managed to balance the responsibilities and stresses of leading the team while also becoming one of the world's greatest batters has been extraordinary.
"He is an incredible ambassador for the sport and I can't wait to see him back out in the middle where I'm certain he'll cement himself as one of the all-time greats."
Stuart Broad also weighed in with support of Root, adding: "Most Test wins as England captain and a great human being."
'An exceptional role model'
Root's tenure was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which saw England rotate their players due to fears over the mental health impact of playing series while living in bio-secure bubbles.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said: "Joe has been an exceptional role model during his tenure, balancing the demands of Test captaincy whilst continuing to shine brilliantly through his own personal performances. He has led by example, and that has resulted in more Test wins than any other England captain, alongside a number of famous series home and away victories.
"Joe's leadership qualities were exemplified by how he led the team through some of the most difficult and uncertain times we have known, playing during the pandemic all over the world, which speaks volumes for him as a leader and as a person.
"I know that every single person who has played or worked under Joe's captaincy will speak of his integrity and humility as a person, as much as his determination and example as a leader."
'Timing of Root's decision a surprise'
Sky Sports News reporter James Cole says the timing of Root's announcement is a surprise.
"I think the fact that Joe Root is stepping down as England captain isn't a huge shock, given the context. The surprise for me is the timing, right now, not just because it's a Bank Holiday weekend, but also the fact he's just come back from the Caribbean and after that series defeat he said he wanted to continue as Test captain," Cole said.
"Before the series started, he was adamant he was the right man for the job and he would only make the decision that was best for the England team. There's no director of cricket at the moment and there's no permanent England head coach, so it's not as if he has been told to step down because there's nobody in position.
"Having had time to reflect after returning from the Caribbean, he has just decided that enough is enough. If England had won that Test series it could be a very different story, but the fact is England have won just one Test in 17 and have lost their last five Test series.
"I'm surprised he hasn't waited until the director of cricket has come in, but he has made the decision for whoever takes over that role.
"You cannot argue with the fact that it would be hard for Joe Root to look at whoever takes over as director of cricket or head coach in the eye, look at his record over the past two-to-three years, and say, 'I'm the best man to lead this team forward.' Sadly, it has got to the point where somebody else needs to come in."
Compton: Joe has done the right thing
Former England batsman Nick Compton
"I think Joe has done the right thing. It's not been an easy decision having to reflect after another poor series against the West Indies. It is time to move on.
"Joe has been an exceptional player; he's really commanded authority when he's played and has given everything to the England job, but I think it's time to get someone different into the role and move this England team forwards.
"We need to be very clear; Joe has been a brilliant man and he's an excellent ambassador. It's not going to be easy for players in general to go from captaincy back into the camp, but Joe is the type of character that will do that exceptionally well.
"He'll support whoever takes the role next and give 100% to them. He's the type of guy who will still go back into the ranks. The most important thing is that Joe is still scoring a lot of runs and he's done that very well as captain so let's hope that continues because we need our best player dominating in international cricket the way that he has."
Who could replace Root? Stokes natural fit, but could Broad bridge the gap?
If in doubt, England turn to their tireless all-rounder. He would perhaps seem the most natural fit, especially as Root's deputy, but given the way he has managed his workload over recent years, would this be a job too far?
The experienced quick, with 537 Test wickets to his name, was controversially dropped for Root's final tour in charge, with fellow paceman Anderson also left behind. A toothless England attack laboured against West Indies which only intensified calls for Broad's return this summer. At nearly 36 he does not have a long Test career ahead of him, but could he bridge the gap?
Like Broad he has lost his place in the side, returning to captain his county, Surrey. He is highly regarded as a county skipper but his record as a Test opener - he averages 30 across 32 Tests - would raise questions about whether or
not he would be worth a place in the side before any captaincy considerations are thrown into the mix.
Like Burns, the Kent man would be an outside pick. His only Test came on the recent Ashes tour and he has been viewed more as a one-day player, but he is well thought of and could provide the fresh start the team so clearly needs.
The Hampshire man falls in the bracket of Burns and Billings, being a county captain with Hampshire having had Test opportunities of his own. He has played 13 Tests, averaging just under 25, but it has always been thought that there is more to come from him at international level.