England all-rounder Ben Stokes has paid tribute to team-mate Joe Root after the Yorkshire hitter stepped down as Men’s Tests captain on Friday.
Root announced his resignation following defeats in the winter playoffs to Australia and West Indies, part of a dismal streak of just one win from 17 Tests.
Stokes and Root are close friends off the pitch and the Durham star appears to be the most obvious successor amid a relative lack of options.
He wrote on Instagram: “It’s been a great ride with you my friend. Watching one of my great friends lead us all onto the pitch has been a privilege. You have given your all to English cricket and we all want to thank you for your sacrifices and hard work.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan, Root’s mentor in Yorkshire, said on a recent BBC radio show that he would tell Root to stand down if he asked for advice.
On Friday morning he tweeted: “He gave it his all with very little support for the red ball team under his leadership…then he had to deal with the times of Covid…he still is and will (will be) the best role model game for many years… now enjoying being the senior player for many seasons.
Fellow former skipper Michael Atherton appeared on Sky Sports News to discuss Root’s departure on Friday.
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “He had gotten to a stage at the end of the Ashes, even before the West Indies tour, where it was pretty clear that a change was needed.
“There comes a time in every England captain’s life when you realize you’ve given it your all and there’s nothing more you can do.
“I think there was a particular moment in the Grenada test where Ben Foakes was worn out, the England team was slipping and the cameras turned to Joe Root on the England balcony with a desperate look and this realization came to him that he really should have quit at the end of the Ashes considering how this tour had gone.
“They tried to isolate his captaincy by getting rid of coach Chris Silverwood and the general manager and leaving some senior players, but I think it was pretty obvious that Joe had come to the end of the road.”
Former England wicketkeeper Matt Prior added: “Sometimes in sports results and performances (good and bad) can cloud people’s judgment of the real person.
“[Joe Root] is first and foremost a wonderful human being and I can’t imagine how difficult this decision was for him. Congratulations on all you have done as England captain.”