How should we rate Joe Root’s tenure as England cricket captain?

Races have come and gone and some famous victories have been claimed, but damaging losses to England’s old foes will tarnish how Joe Root’s time as captain will be viewed in years to come.

Root resigned as England Test captain on Friday, saying the job had recently cost him dearly, although he said in late March he wanted to continue as skipper.

Analyzing his legacy is a difficult task, given the various ups and downs he encountered after taking the role in 2017.

The Yorkshire-born batsman is England’s second all-time goalscorer behind Alastair Cook and his tally of 5,295 runs as skipper is the highest by an England captain.

Root has recorded more wins as a skipper than any of his compatriots (27), but has also suffered more losses (26) in the role than any other.

Among those defeats, England’s sad recent record of soft surrenders against Australia stands out.

Root enjoyed immediate success as skipper after taking over from Cook following a beating in India. A score of 190 on his captaincy debut – the first test against South Africa at Lord’s in the summer of 2017 – was the highest of six centuries scored by England captains in their first game in the role .

Back-to-back wins in the last two Tests gave England a 3-1 series win to allow Root to fly. He finished with 461 carries – 131 more than his closest challenger either side.

The honeymoon period did not last long as England returned their urn of ashes after a 4-0 crush in 2017-18, before another series defeat, this time to New Zealand, did sees Root’s first year at the helm end inauspiciously.

Another revival of fortune came in 2018 as Root’s England beat number one Test side India 4-1 at home, before traveling to Sri Lanka and overseeing their first overseas tour victory, becoming the first Englishman in 55 years to earn a whiteout abroad in a series of three or more games.

“We’re no longer a one-trick pony on our own terms and that should fill us with tremendous confidence for future tours,” Root said at the time. England were then beaten in the West Indies soon after.

For all the confidence-building wins, constant disappointment remains.

England had won four of their previous five Ashes series before Root’s tenure, but in three series against Australia, two away and one at home, England have won only two out of 15 Tests.

The final series of Root’s reign in 2021 and 2022, a tour he admitted would ‘define his time’ as captain, could not have been much worse as the Ashes were returned within 12 days of cricket as the urn again remained below.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said England were the worst performing tourist he had ever seen in Australia.

“The fact is, under his watch over the last 12 to 18 months, nothing has gone well,” former England captain David Gower told the BBC.

“At some point you get to the point – and I remember it from all those years ago – where you realize that whatever you say or do, it’s not going to inspire a team anymore.

“A lot of people, including me, had decided it was time for a new voice.”

The final nail in the coffin was another serial defeat in the Caribbean last month, but not for the first time in history lasting and irreparable damage was done by the Australians.


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