Joe Root is “ready to captain England” according to Alastair Cook. While Cook maintained that his views on continuing as captain “have not changed” – he has long said that he will continue on a series by series basis and make a firm decision only after consulting the managing director of the England team, Andrew Strauss – he did hint he was asking himself “some questions” over his future.
“I think Joe Root is ready to captain England,” Cook said following England’s innings-and-36-run defeat in Mumbai which handed India the series. “He is ready because he is a clued-up guy and he has the respect of everyone in the changing room.
“You never know until you actually experience it and everything that comes with the England captaincy. You are thrown in at the deep end and you kind of sink or swim. Nothing can prepare you for it. He has not got much captaincy experience but that does not mean everything.”
While it is true that Root, the current vice-captain, has little captaincy experience – he has been captain for just four first-class games – that could equally be used as a reason to elevate him sooner rather than later.
England play two Test series in the English summer of 2017 – one against South Africa and one against West Indies – and, if there is any doubt over whether Cook will continue as captain until the Ashes at the end of the year, there is bound to be a temptation to provide Root with the maximum amount of experience possible and make the change before the South Africa series.
There is already much required of him, though. He is, arguably, England’s key batsman in all three formats and, in the next few weeks, he will become a father for the first time. With the demands of England schedule, it may be that Cook and Strauss are reluctant to overload him.
Either way, Cook has some time to reflect on his position. As he is no longer a member of the England limited-overs teams, he has no international commitments until July after the Chennai Test finishes next week and while he has sounded increasingly jaded with some aspects of life on the road in recent weeks, he retains great pride in the leadership role.
“The comments I made at start of series have not changed,” Cook said. “It sticks true to end of this series. I will sit down with Straussy at the end of the year like we have made the pact to do to talk honestly and openly about stuff. My position has not changed and wouldn’t have done had we won this game or lost this game.
“Of course you have questions. Naturally you look at stuff. Clearly it is a hard place to tour, certainly with the balance of our squad in terms of where our strengths lie, the sub-continent is going to be a harder place to tour than somewhere like South Africa.
“But being captain of England is a huge honour, a huge privilege. You are at the forefront of the team and it comes onto your shoulders when you win or lose. In the heat of the battle you make those decisions. You go to bed at night and you have to live with making good or bad decisions. As a bloke to be asked to lead your country is a huge honour personally.”