England Cricket: Is Joe Root’s resignation a short-term solution to a longer-term problem?

England’s problems unlikely to disappear just because Joe Root has resigned from Captaincy

The announcement of Joe Root’s resignation came as little surprise to many English cricket fans.

The recent Test series in West Indies cemented the inevitable and with only Joe Root’s position left unchanged after the disastrous 4-0 Ashes series defeat, he was unsurprisingly the only one left to blame.

The Yorkshire batter has been England’s most successful captain, leading his country to more wins than any other Englishman, but, after a disastrous 2021, the end seemed nigh.

The 31-year-old was evidently reluctant to give up his role and for good reason.

A captain is “the leader of a team”. Root embodies this definition more than any other England captain in recent years.

He is currently sitting 400 runs ahead of the next batter in the top run scorers in the 2021-23 Test Championship and in 2021 had an average of 61.00, achieving a total of 1708 runs.

Root provided a sense of stability and assurance in a team that has been hurtling towards rock rock bottom.

This England team is in desperate need of continuity and solidity. Ever since the steadfast opening partnership of Sir Andrew Strauss and Sir Alastair Cook came to an end, there has been a constant turnover in top-order batters, with very few partnerships coming anywhere close to what is required.

With such constant change in the team, and the troublingly familiar presence of doom hovering over the dressing room whenever England step out to bat, it’s hard to picture just how that will change when Root’s successor steps in.

When Strauss came in as the temporary managing director, he made some impulsive and inexplicable decisions.

With over 1100 wickets between them, Strauss took the decision to omit Broad, left, and Anderson, right, from West Indies tour

Omitting England’s leading wicket-takers from the West Indies tour received a lot of criticism, especially considering one of those players had an Ashes 2021/22 average 23.37 - lower than any other English bowler on tour.

The decision to leave out James Anderson and Stuart Broad was clearly a rash attempt to show things would be different under new management, but there appeared very little reasoning for not bringing the most reliable bowlers on the Caribbean tour.

Their exclusion was almost an indication that the veterans were to blame for such dismal Ashes performances.

Young blood was apparently what was needed - a complete fresh start and a clean slate.

When this didn’t work, Joe Root’s name was next and yet another temporary solution was found to help solve decade-long problems - papering over the now chasmic cracks.

England’s two biggest flaws have been their top-order collapses and their inability to perform well consistently away from home.

Will a new captain pull a top-order out his sleeve that can consistently make it to lunch without collapsing?

Can a new captain magically transform England into a side who can perform consistently away from home?

It is surely up to the England management to implement new training procedures to tackle the side’s issues - for example, overseas training camps could help remedy the fundamental issues that pervade the dressing room.

Root has been better than any captain before him but has had to cope with a pandemic and a busier calendar than his predecessors were faced with - plus the same old headaches as were there well before he was even in the England camp.

Root scored more runs than any other batter in 2021

Yet England’s star batter has been made out to be the reason 2021 was such a calamity.

With Root out, the panicked question has now been raised as to who succeeds him. Surely, this dilemma once again highlights just how much of Root’s decision to leave is a temporary fix to longer-term obstacles.

Ben Stokes is the most obvious and clear favourite of the current candidates, but he is in great danger of succumbing to the pressures of leading his country before he has been able to get his feet back on the ground.

After taking four months away from the game, Stokes has not been the reliable run-scoring machine we knew him to be before.

If he were to be given the nod, there’s every chance the responsibility of the role could hamper his attempts to return to his imperious best at the crease - uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, goes the Shakespearian adage.

With just a few weeks to go before New Zealand travel across the world to face a team currently in shambles and disarray, far more than a change of captaincy is required for England rise from their slump to become a formidable Test side again.

The pressure is on for the ECB to provide some compelling solutions to turn around England’s future - blaming England’s most successful captain and second all-time leading run scorer just isn’t the answer.