England slammed amid calls for Joe Root to step down

Published December 29, 2021
ENGLAND captain Joe Root reacts after losing the series at the MCG.
—AFP
ENGLAND captain Joe Root reacts after losing the series at the MCG. —AFP

LONDON: Joe Root must step down as England captain after his team’s meek surrender in Melbourne ensured Australia retained the Ashes, former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott said on Tuesday.

“Now Australia are 3-0 up and the Ashes have gone, will Root please stop saying Australia are not much better than us? I don’t mind him living in cuckoo land but stop trying to kid us,” Boycott wrote in his column in The Telegraph.

“If he really believes what he says then maybe it is time he gave up the captaincy of the England cricket team. The facts are staring us all in the face, except Joe doesn’t want to see it. England can’t bat. Our bowling is ordinary.”

Boycott said many of Root’s decisions were wrong, such as batting first on a seamer-friendly pitch at the Gabba while leaving out James Anderson and Stuart Broad who have over 1,100 Test wickets between them.

“It’s every cricketer’s dream to captain England and Joe has had 59 Tests to mould and stamp his authority on this set of players. He has had 13 Tests against Australia with only two wins and nine losses,” Boycott noted.

“Nobody would want to give up the captaincy, but it is not about Joe — it is about getting guys to perform better.”

Other former England cricketers also came down hard on England for their poor show Down Under.

“I’m a little embarrassed, to be honest,” former England captain Ian Botham said on Australia’s Channel 7. “To lose the Ashes in 12 days ... I just think that England have lost their way. The performance today summed it up.

“It’s been a walk in the park for the Australians. It burns me to say that but they have completely outplayed England.”

Michael Vaughan, another former skipper, said England had not focused on Test cricket enough.

“They’re a group of players that pride themselves on competing and they’ve just not managed to find any kind of consistency or skill,” Vaughan told Fox Cricket.

“It’s not been easy in these times: the England side haven’t had a great deal of preparation. But if you want to look for excuses you can, you can always find excuses -- this [Melbourne] Test match team for quite a while has not been good enough.

“The focus has been on the white ball team and it delivered a World Cup, but we’re not a good enough cricketing nation to take our eye off the ball of Test match cricket.”

Moeen Ali, who retired from Test cricket in September, said there was a massive gulf in class between Australia and England.

“Australia are just way ahead of England,” Ali told BT Sport. “I didn’t think the gap was that big before the series but I almost think it is bigger than we are willing to admit. I can’t remember many sessions we have won in this series.”

Ex-England pace bowler Steve Harmison added that “there was no fight” and said careers were on the line.

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said he would be surprised if Root stayed on as captain while the skipper himself told the BBC: “You can’t start looking at things too far in the future”.

Agnew, himself a former England Test bowler, said England’s domestic structure was not “fit for purpose”.

“The [first-class] County Championship has been marginalised to the fringes of the season for the convenience of playing more limited-overs cricket,” he wrote.

“The ability to produce a solid defence has given way to the desire to hit ramps, scoops and towering sixes.

“The message from the authorities is the shortest formats are the only interesting or exciting versions of cricket,” Agnew added.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2021

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