Root feels justified in captaincy decision after England red-ball revival

By Sports Desk December 24, 2022

Joe Root believes his decision to step down as England Test captain has been justified following a remarkable end to 2022 for Ben Stokes' red-ball side.

England became the first visiting team to win three matches in a Test series in Pakistan this week, taking them to nine victories from 10 Tests since Stokes replaced Root as skipper in April.

Prior to Root's decision to step down, England suffered a demoralising 1-0 series loss to West Indies and were thrashed 4-0 by Australia in the Ashes. 

With England now earning plaudits for their fearless style under coach Brendon McCullum and captain Stokes, Root has no regrets concerning the end of his time at the helm.

"We weren't performing," Root recalled in an interview with Sky Sports. "We weren't delivering what I thought we were capable of, and it had a massive impact on me away from cricket as well.

"If you can't even be yourself, then you aren't able to give what that role requires, lead in the right way or lead a group of players.

"For a number of reasons, it was the right thing to do, to step back. It needs someone to throw absolutely everything at it.

"As soon as I made that decision, it was quite clear that it was the right one, and I've not looked back. I gave everything to that role and threw everything at it. I am really proud of the way I went about that."

England's aggressive approach was on display as they posted their fifth-highest innings total in history (657) in their Pakistan opener, and Root feels the team's enjoyment of their new style has paid dividends.

"Brendon's got a very aggressive approach to how to play the game, I think Ben is even more aggressive! It is exciting," Root said.

"When you are 10, 12, or even younger, you're playing in the back garden – that's the feeling that you get – that raw enjoyment of smacking the ball, bowling fast, or spinning it miles. That's something you should never really lose as a player.

"It's easy to forget, in the hype of the pressurised environments and demands of constantly putting in performances and winning. But it is so important that you enjoy what you do, and you're more likely to get the best out of yourselves and it's something that we've paid quite a lot of attention to."

England will attempt to reclaim the Ashes on home soil in 2023, with the series set to begin at Edgbaston on June 16, and Root is enthusiastic about their prospects.

"Everything ramps up. The interest around Test cricket in this country goes up a notch," Root said of playing in a home Ashes series.

"It's a great opportunity for us, and with how we played our cricket under Ben last summer, it's a very exciting place to be with a big series like that coming around.

"We've proven to ourselves we can do it against two of the best teams in the world in our own conditions, so it will be great to take Australia on and take that one step further again."

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