Back or sack Rashid and bat at four - Root's to-do list as England captain


The constant evolution of England's Test team continued on Monday as Joe Root was chosen to lead his country in cricket's premier format.

This year began with England smarting from a 4-0 defeat in India and will end with an away Ashes tour, so there is plenty for Root to get his teeth into.

Here we look at three key areas that Root must address if he is to get his tenure off to a successful start.



Root dealt with a shift up to number three smartly last year, averaging 51.15 across 11 Tests and hitting a mammoth 254 against Pakistan at Old Trafford.

But he should not pass on a chance to drop a spot in the upcoming English summer.

At four, Root averages 50.36, but a top three of Alastair Cook, Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings has - on admittedly limited evidence for the latter two - the requisite style and substance to score Test runs anywhere.

Cook's ability to switch from captain mode immediately to batting mode should not be taken for granted. His ability to 'bat in a bubble' was a rare skill and Root will benefit from a break between setting fields and getting his eye in at the crease.

As well as protecting his own game, Root at four offers a calming presence to an England middle order that shifts markedly through the gears as you go from Jonny Bairstow to Ben Stokes to Jos Buttler.



Adil Rashid became something of an enigma in India as he struggled for consistency in the Tests and played an entire Twenty20 match without bowling a single ball.

England will not play in spinning conditions until a tour of Sri Lanka currently scheduled for October 2018.

It seems almost unfair on the leg-spinner to hold him back for the subcontinent and expect him to deliver attempting one of the most difficult crafts in the game.

If Root believes Rashid can be a wicket-taker in home conditions, as well as Australian ones later this year, he should back his man through the English summer and beyond. If not, it should be the first of many difficult decisions he will have to make.



He has played alongside him for many a year, but Root will only be in charge of James Anderson for a fleeting period.

Stuart Broad has also had his workload managed in recent months as England try to eke out as much as possible from one of the great seam-bowling partnerships.

At 34, Anderson is almost certain to retire during Root's reign and a new first-up bowler will be needed.

Chris Woakes has grown in stature in recent years, Jake Ball is clearly highly rated and Mark Wood has the potential to be a star if he can stay fit.

David Willey's ability to routinely take early wickets in white-ball cricket with a swinging ball could be nurtured in the Test arena. 

Whatever the solution, Root is likely to be the man who will have to find it.