Cricket Expert & Columnist
Nasser Hussain: Joe Root's captaincy 'exceptional' in 'hugely significant' series win
"You now want to look after Jofra Archer and Mark Wood because they are the future"
Last Updated: 28/01/20 6:21am
After England secured a 3-1 Test series win over South Africa, Nasser Hussain discusses how important it was for the captain, Ben Stokes' talismanic performances, and the future of the seam attack…
It is a hugely significant win for Joe Root.
You have to put it in context, England haven't lost out here for 20 years so they're used to at least not losing and they tend to play good cricket here. But for Joe Root, who was under immense pressure after losing in New Zealand, after sticking South Africa in and losing that first Test match, he was under pressure and not only has he won, his captaincy has been exceptional.
He won the toss here and decided to bat, the things he has done throughout, you look down from the commentary box now and you see a Joe Root side. Significantly, the youth has come through and he has now got that youth and experience coming together.
I know Mark Wood has done extremely well here in Johannesburg but the standout cricketer in this series has been Ben Stokes.
If you look at the key moments in the series: Newlands when they needed to up the tempo, Stokes does it; Newlands when they need to bowl South Africa out, Stokes does it; Port Elizabeth when they 150-4, Stokes and Ollie Pope smash it around; here when the skipper needs quick wickets because nothing is happening, Stokes provides it.
He is the catalyst and everyone has worked around that wonderful cricketer.
Looking ahead, they might try to go horses for courses with the batting in Sri Lanka with rumours that Keaton Jennings might come back because he plays spin well, but generally your best batsmen will play.
With the bowlers, they now have options and you can look down at the surface and say 'right, out of these seven seamers we have available' - if they are all fit - 'which are going to be the best four or best five'.
Stokes gives them that option of playing all their bowlers so they can rotate a little bit like Australia did in the Ashes. Mitchell Starc didn't play very much but when they go back to Australia with the Kookaburra ball he is very useful and plays nearly every game.
I think the key ones you want to look after, you have moved away from Stuart Broad and James Anderson, you now want to look after Jofra Archer and Wood because they are the future.
Wood, in particular, is very fragile with his body and Archer, having been bowled into the ground in New Zealand, only got through one Test. Look after those fast bowlers, they are like gold dust.