Strauss backs Root as 'obvious guy' to captain England

By Sports Desk September 18, 2019

Joe Root remains the obvious candidate to serve as England Test captain, according to former skipper Andrew Strauss.

Root's side concluded a thrilling Ashes battle against Australia with a series-levelling win at The Oval last week, although a 2-2 draw in the five-match rubber was not enough to regain the famous urn.

Strauss presided over back-to-back Ashes triumphs in 2009 and 2010-11 and feels Root, who was beaten 4-0 in Australia in 2017-18, will be stronger for the experience.

However, the 42-year-old former opener warned the Yorkshireman must balance the burden of captaincy against his output with the bat.

Root failed to convert any of his four Ashes fifties into three-figure scores over the course of the English summer, with such efforts dwarfed by Australia run machine Steve Smith.

"I think he's learnt a lot on the job. He's had some tough circumstances to deal with," Strauss, who was appointed chair of the ECB's cricket committee last week, told Omnisport.

"Obviously, the Ashes away in Australia wasn't a happy time for us.

"But he would have been buoyed by the performance at The Oval and he's the obvious guy to keep going.

"He's learnt all the lessons there are to learn and now it's about him evolving and developing as a captain, but also making sure he looks after his own game at the same time.

"We need him to be putting in those sort of performances, maybe not Steve Smith level, but somewhere close. He's definitely capable of doing that."

Among the pluses from England's 135-run triumph at The Oval was a third half-century in as many matches for Joe Denly, whose battling displays have suggested an alliance with Rory Burns at the top of the order might yet be something more than makeshift.

Sam Curran impressed on his first outing of the series with some lively left-arm seam bowling and Strauss believes the all-rounder and his Surrey team-mate Ollie Pope are candidates to freshen up the Test side during the forthcoming tours of New Zealand and South Africa.

"I don't think you're going to get wholesale changes," Strauss told reporters at the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am. "They might have a look at one or two, someone like Ollie Pope – hopefully Sam Curran will get a bit of a run in the side as well.

"I think it was great to see Denly and Burns earn themselves a bit more time and show that they're capable of opening the batting.

"You've got to start somewhere and they might end up being that partnership.

"We need a bit more consistency in our Test cricket, that's for sure. We've got the makings of a very good team but it's about learning how to win and how to make sure that you don't put yourself under real pressure, which maybe we've done too often."

England are yet to name a replacement for outgoing head coach Trevor Bayliss, with Chris Silverwood expected to take interim charge in New Zealand.

Strauss agrees with his successor as England's director of cricket, Ashley Giles, that one coach overseeing all three formats is preferable, although he feels increased specialisation below is likely.

"I think Ashley Giles has said he prefers one coach overseeing things and then maybe some specialist support staff or assistant coaches," Strauss added.

"The challenge is so much cricket coming up in all three formats. With the World Test Championship and a global event every year we've got to be very consistent and good in all formats.

"I think that leads to specialist support staff but it also probably leads to specialist players as well. We'll see how they go with that."

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