“He’s got a great cricket brain and I think his record as England captain is actually pretty good.”
Root will become England’s most experienced Test captain during the fourth Test in Sydney, going clear of Alastair Cook by leading them for the 60th time, but despite his own record-breaking year with the bat, his side has lost nine of their last 12 Tests and have been thrashed in six consecutive games overseas.
His captaincy has come in for heavy criticism throughout the Ashes series, starting at the toss in Brisbane when England left out James Anderson and Stuart Broad and opted to bat first on an underprepared, green pitch. When asked about his future as captain following the defeat in Melbourne, Root said that it would be “wrong to look past” the final two Tests of the series: “My energy has to be all about trying to win the next game,” he said. “I can’t be selfish and start thinking about myself.”
The Guardian and the Telegraph reported that Root had met Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, in Melbourne on Wednesday and signalled his desire to stay on as captain past the end of the series. And with a dearth of obvious candidates to replace him – Ben Stokes is his deputy but has endured a tough 18 months due to bereavement, injury and struggles with his mental health – and the support of the dressing room, Root looks likely to continue in the role.
“Absolutely,” Woakes, one of the England players at an optional nets session, told reporters in Melbourne when asked if Root retained the team’s backing. “Joe is a great cricketer, he’s got a great cricket brain and I think his record as England captain is actually pretty good.
“Definitely it feels like Joe will continue. Hopefully he will. It’s clear that the captaincy isn’t having an effect on his batting, which a lot of the time with captains can be the case. The fact that he’s scoring the runs he is, is great for the team.
“It would be great if we could help him out with that and score a few more runs around him. Joe is a world-class player who has obviously had a fantastic year. When a guy bats as well as he has you would expect us to put in a lot stronger performances than we have.”