This week has seen Joe Root take to the field for the first time as the England cricket Test captain. Long since groomed for the role, he was the natural choice for the job after Alistair Cook’s resignation after the tours of the sub-continent last year.

Still only 26 years of age, Root is a young choice, and has only captained any side at professional level in 4 games previously (Sky have done a great quiz with this type of Joe Root trivia if you’re interested).

However, Root is undoubtedly one of the best batsmen in the world across all three formats, matched perhaps only by Kane Williamson, Virat Kohli and Steve Smith in the world game. A popular choice, he’s also the darling of many sponsors, including Brut, My Protein and Vitality. His recent bat sponsorship deal with New Balance is also thought to be one of the most lucrative in the game. It’s easy to see why, too, with online retailers like Talent Cricket seeing a spike in sales as a result.

But, personality and sponsorship aside, what will the England cricket team look like under Joe Root? Let’s take a look.

Revolution or Evolution?

For all the talk of a more “aggressive” England under the captaincy of Root, his interviews seem to suggest that his captaincy will be a continuation of Cook’s reign. In an interview with The Guardian, he said that: “I wouldn’t have taken the job on if I didn’t think I was capable of doing it and capable of taking the side forward. We had a tough year last year but I think the squad is very settled, has learned a lot from that and is ready to put that right this year.”

His first Test squad also suggests similar. The recall of Gary Balance to bat at 3 is incredibly interesting, as the two are old friends and Root has always known to be a big fan of his in spite of his previous England failures. There were no call ups for Mark Stoneman or Dawid Malan; two of the County circuit’s most aggressive batsmen. Likewise, the more defensively minded spin bowling of Liam Dawson has been preferred to the more aggressive leg spin of Adil Rashid. The majority of the squad was maintained, very much signalling “business as usual”.

The Roles of Ben Stokes and Alistair Cook

One of the most interesting characters of Joe Root’s reign will be the charismatic Ben Stokes as vice-captain. Long-time friends, the two have been known as the main jokers in the dressing room. With Root taking on more responsibility, it will be interesting to see how their relationship develops and whether it affects either of their attacking styles.

Likewise, there’s never a guarantee that old England captains will settle back into the ranks well. With Root taking the captaincy, he’ll need Cook to be an able and willing lieutenant who he can turn to for advice without him taking over the team. If successful, England will hope that Cook, arguably England’s greatest ever opening batsmen, will continue in the role for years to come. The balance between advice from Stokes and Cook will certainly be intriguing.

 

To conclude, Root has long since been groomed for the captaincy of England. However, it looks like his captaincy won’t see the ushering in of a brave new world. Well, not just yet anyway.