Root still the right man to lead England, says Gough

Published April 7, 2022
Joe Root's England have won only one of their past 17 Tests. —AFP
Joe Root's England have won only one of their past 17 Tests. —AFP

NEW DELHI: England’s record of one win in their last 17 Tests is clearly not good enough but Joe Root is still the right man to skipper the side, former bowler Darren Gough told Reuters.

Root has come under pressure after England slumped to a 4-0 defeat in the last Ashes series and lost 1-0 in West Indies, with former captains Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain among those saying it was time for a leadership change.

Since taking charge in 2017, Root has led the side in a record 64 Tests. His 27 wins and 26 defe­ats as captain are also records.

Gough, who had a stint as England’s fast bowling consultant in 2019, said Root enjoyed the utmost respect of players in the dressing room and that there was no clear “natural successor”.

“If you’re looking at results alone, one win in 17 is not good enough, of course,” Gough said.

“But having been in the England dressing room, I can assure you that he’s so well respected by every single player in that team. He’s the natural captain.”

Gough considers Ben Stokes the best all-rounder in contemporary cricket and a possible future skipper but said it was not the right time for Root to leave the role.

“If we had someone that was really putting their hands up and saying, ‘I’m your natural successor’, you could make an argument for a change,” Gough said.

“But I honestly believe Joe Root is still the right man for the job at this moment in time. I don’t think it’s time for Ben Stokes to take over.

“Other than that, there’s no one else who you can turn to who could do a different job to Joe Root.”

England’s struggles in the Test arena have prompted calls for a red-ball reset but Gough said they should first start getting their team selections right.

The 51-year-old was surprised England did not take veteran seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad to West Indies.

England next host New Zealand in June before India and South Africa come calling.

Gough called for Anderson and Broad, “arguably the greatest two England bowlers”, to be alternated on away tours.

“That would have been my plan, I’d have always one of them there all the time,” said Gough, who played 58 Tests for England during his 12 years in international cricket.

“I believe one of them will come back in, I don’t think both will come back. I’ve no idea which one, that’s a very hard pick because both are still unbelievable cricketers.”

England have a big summer of cricket ahead and they are capable of turning things around under Root, especially if fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood return from injuries, Gough said.

“We need to get Jofra Archer and Mark Wood back. If we can get everybody back on the field, we can scare anyone,” he added.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2022

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