Root Out. Heaven Knows Who In.

And there was me, all smug, thinking that I could put my computer to one side and enjoy the bank holiday without writing any copy. And then Root suddenly decides to resign. Thanks for that, Joe. 

To be honest, though, I guess we should have seen this one coming. Root’s position, in hindsight, was probably untenable. We’ve won, what, about one of the last seventeen Tests? That’s a pitiful record really. Joe was probably too embarrassed to carry on.

The big question, of course, is how much of this dismal run was actually down to his captaincy? I’d wager very little. Joe clearly isn’t the best captain tactically but neither is he the reason why England have been losing consistently to just about everyone.

The real problem has obviously been the dearth of talent at Root’s disposal. And that’s not going to improve anytime soon. We’ll probably be crap for ten years, or even longer if white ball cricket and The Hundred remains the ECB’s priority rather than the championship.

How will I remember Joe’s tenure as captain? Well, it hasn’t been easy for sure. But I genuinely think that Root can hold his head up high. He’s endured all sorts of problems, only the minority of which were of his making, and he’s maintained his dignity in the face of humiliation quite admirably. I actually think I respect him more now than when he first took on the job, which might be a first for a losing England captain. 

Was he right to call it a day? I don’t really know. Probably. But I’m also quite anxious about who will replace him. After all, there are no good alternatives. All the names I’ve heard on social media – Stokes, Buttler, Billings, Bairstow, Moeen, Vince, Broad, Burns, Morgan – would all be terrible choices for very different reasons. The job at hand is simply to pick the least terrible option. 

So who would I pick? First, let me tell you who’s most likely to get it. I think they’ll offer the job to Stokes, regardless of his past or his mental health, and pray that he accepts it – which he might or might not. At least he’s guaranteed a place in the side (unlike the others).

The cynic in me, however, thinks there might be a movement to appoint Eoin Morgan. After all, the public like him, he has a Brearley-esque reputation, and more importantly (from the ECB’s point of view), he’s pro-Hundred and agrees with the board that domestic red ball cricket just simply isn’t worth bothering with. I can see the post-match interviews now:

Hussain: “So, Eoin, that’s five defeats in a row, what are your thoughts?”

Morgan: “It’s all good thanks Naz, Test cricket is dying anyway, and there’s a really important T20 series against Bangladesh coming up. That gives us a great opportunity to get some wins on the board”.

Obviously appointing Morgan would be an absolute farce, and a kick in the nuts to just about everyone who cares deeply about the red ball game. However, we live in strange times. And the people making this decision might care more about the optics that anything else. Inspirational World Cup winning captain, who turned around the fortunes of the ODI side, set to rescue the Test team, too, might make for attractive messaging. Obviously I’m being facetious here, but nothing would really surprise me at this point. 

As for the other candidates, the only one I would remotely consider is Stuart Broad on a short-term basis. However, he’s been far too outspoken in the media in recent times so I imagine the ECB would prefer to stick their todgers in a blender than appoint him. 

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Maybe a new candidate will ‘emerge’, a bit like Tory leaders, and the identity of that man could very well depend on who gets the MD job. If it’s Rob Key, then the odds on Billings would fall dramatically. 

The things that strikes me, however, is the absolutely paucity of proper candidates. In years gone by, the baton was normally passed to a senior batsman (or other senior player). But this time there are no other senior players. Absolutely nobody, other than Root and Stokes, is guaranteed a place in the side. Yes, England’s Test team really is that bad. It’s absolutely shambolic. 

So the sinking ship that is English cricket will limp on, with its tallest sail barely visible above the water line, and slowly edge towards the next iceberg. And it will do so, for the time being, with no chairman, no managing direction, no head coach, no skipper, and (soon enough) no CEO. 

English cricket is, to stretch this analogy to its very limits, completely rudderless. But we’ve all known that for years anyway.

You’re better off out of it, to be honest, Joe. And you go with my best wishes, respect, and blessing. 

James Morgan


  • It’s a poisoned chalice. We have an awful batting line-up and a poor bowling line-up (mostly self-inflicted). Appointing Stokes would be a disaster; as Aggers points out, most of the previous high profile players have had poor resuts as captains (he cites Botham, Flintoff, and Petersen).
    I would still favour Buttler, but, as a very short term option, how about Anderson? He would have little to lose, and has wanted to captain for at least half of his Test career.

  • It was always a matter of time after his strangely positive post Windies tour utterings. He has done a decent job for his lack of experience, but we need to move forward and this clearly isn’t happening under him.
    Burns would be my favourite, as I still think he’s the best opening option we have. Broad might be a short term option but he’s probably burned his ECB bridges over the Windies tour selection. Can’t see Stokes being interested with his recent physical and mental issues. If it goes to Billings Foakes test career could be over before it’s really begun, though he wasn’t exactly brilliant in the Caribbean.
    Appointing Key as successor to Silverwood seems a middle of the road option. Never more than a adequate batter at test level, he had many if the faults we presently display at the crease. His mediocre punditry makes him an ideal ECB puppet. Would have liked to see a Hussein or Atherton given a go, but ultimately as long as white ball is in the ascendency it’s difficult to see a future for test cricket the world over.

    • Yes, Foakes dropped a catch that, if Buttler had dropped, everyone would have said “Foakes would have caught that”.

      • You still can’t compare the two as wicketkeepers and Foakes has about the same test batting average. So for me theres no contest.

  • The plan seems to have been to use a win in WI to bury the memory of the Ashes – but the defeat scuppered that. The toxic leadership culture around the England team (pre-set plans written by coaches, bombproof senior players, etc) was beyond Root’s breaking. It’s difficult to imagine anyone in a stronger position to break it so I doubt it’ll ever be broken. Perhaps Root was too much “go-along-to-get-along”, perhaps he’s been in that culture too long? However he wasn’t good at the things captains are there for and was getting worse – team selection was cautious, pitch readings bizarrely wrong-headed (most egregiously in Brisbane), on-field tactics looked decided by rote and seldom if ever inspired by a reading of a particular situation or player. He maintained his form and wasn’t too awful in press conferences – is this all that is expected of an England captain now?

    I expect they’ll appoint Stokes if his knee injury allows it. I’d appoint Broad – I don’t think his interviews about being left out will exclude him (he’s begging to play for England – the ECB love that) but the deeply entrenched bias against bowlers might. He’s not a good option but probably the least bad one. Maybe Burns should be brought back to see if he can establish himself in the team as the option after Broad?

    With the team desperate for an opening batsman and a captain I’m kinda surprised there doesn’t seem anyone in the media floating the idea of trying to talk Cook out of retirement.

  • Not a surprise to see Root go, but the total shitshow around him and the ECB’s obsession with white ball cricket – not to mention the insane amount of Tests we play compared with other nations- isn’t his fault. He’s done well to last as long as he has, though the lack of an obvious replacement kept him in the job for a year too long.

    I would also go for Broad as his replacement – Cummins has shown a bowler can do the job, but the likelihood of the ECB reversing their long standing prejudice against appointing a bowler (which goes back to the days of amateurs – mainly batsmen – and professionals – mainly bowlers) seems remote. I really hope they don’t overburden Stokes with it – we need to look after him better than we did Freddie.

  • Please not Stokes. The captaincy would destroy him. We need someone else for a few years and could maybe then go for Stokes.

    Burns could be a possibility. If they go for him, then that makes everyone’s lives easier by filling one of the two hardest to fill positions in the team.

    Or if you want something really left field, let Broad and Anderson do a job share. Not just with a place on the team but also with the captaincy.

  • I think we go with a revolutionary dual captain approach and get broad and Jimmy as duel skippers. Ticks lots of boxes.

    1. They are old so it doesn’t ruin young promising players. Root actually did pretty well as a batsman when captaining but don’t think he was ever quite the same.

    2. If the team is picked on merit (big if bearing in mind WI) they are guaranteed a place and not many senior guys who can say that.

    3. Could be interesting.

    4. Frankly there is no one else. Really don’t think it is any way sensible to burden stokes with it.

    5. If they have been whingeing about leadership and so on, time for them to put their money where their mouth is.

  • Pick your best team then your captain. Ben Stokes may not be fit so let’s decide nearer the time. Do not think the role should be central as it is. I would be happy with Ben, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson, or Jonny Bairstow. All experienced and capable.

    The problem is not captaincy it is scoring more than 300 runs.

  • If Stokes takes the job he’ll fail miserably just like Botham. Star players do not make good captains. Broad is not popular with the ECB or many of the players and would be a disaster. It’s Burns or you bring in an outsider, but and here’s the rub – who stands out and indeed who wants to take on a nightmare job? There is no management in English cricket, it’s a shite show as others have graphically pointed out. Ok Key would suit the ECB, providing they give him time off to play golf! Yeah really, that’s what he said. Back to watching NZ for me, probably for several years until this disaster is sorted out.

  • If they give the captaincy to Broad, England will use up all their reviews in the first 10 overs

  • The hero worship of Morgan and that some seriously want him as Test captain I find bizarre.

    Firstly, he would take a place in the team in the one are it’s over-stocked i.e. the lower middle order. Secondly, what exactly has he done? He won a home WC. India and Australia did that in the two preceeding WCs and did so at a canter. England had the strongest batting line-up in a tournament set up for batsmen and should have won. Thirdly, what captaincy skills has Morgan shown? He values wrist spin and has taken away fear of failure when attacking. The Test side could perhaps use the former, the latter not so much. His management of some players has been highly questionable e.g. Hales, Ali. He’s as prone to follow pre-conceived tactics in the field as Root. Fourthly, both the white ball team and his form are showing signs of decline and arresting this is probably enough.

    It’s the same pattern after winning the Rugby WC – Woodward/Wilkinson became fetishised, they stayed on long passed their sell-by dates and England became an unending search to repeat their formula with different players when the game had moved on.

  • A good early test case if the ECB are vaguely serious about a red-ball improvement is if any action is taken against Somerset.

    Everyone loves Somerset – but a pitch where Craig Oveton can take 13 wickets for under a 100 and with no weather excuses needs to result in an exemplary punishment to cut out this sort of nonsense.

    • Well interestingly Leach didn’t bowl a ball, and I don’t think any wickets went to spin. But they have a knack down their in creating all types of dodgy pitches.

  • Key’s appointment as new managing director is apparently waiting to be unveiled. Possibly the only good thing to be said for it is that Sky’s co-ownership of this debacle will now be more obvious.

    The DM says that Strauss is a genius because he’s been consulting outside the game in his review of English cricket. Who he’s actually consulted are: 1) Dave Brailsford – this shows at best that Strauss is still in the Flower era of ‘marginal gains’ and at worst not bothered about the dubious practices Brailsford was exposed engaging in when in charge of cycling 2) Someone from the LTA – possibly the only governing body run worse than the ECB. They poached a woman to win a grand slam – but the only winning man they’ve had in decades flourished outside their system.

    Key looks set up to perform the same role as Giles – a likeable chump to act as a lightning rod.

    • I can’t think of one good thing Strauss has done at the ECB. He’s as bad as Harrison and should follow him out of the door. Until this disability organisation is complex disbanded and reformed with a new structure, you might as well add Key to the dumped list. Really Key? Christ Almighty.

      • I agree. In many respects he is as culpable as Harrison. He assessed the situation correctly, but got the solution completely wrong.

  • What happened to Tom’s posts on this thread? I assume it was Tom – under a new name…….


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