Joe Root has resigned as the England men’s Test captain after a five-year tenure in the role. Pressure had built on the 31-year-old after a dire run of Test results, culminating in a 4-0 Ashes thrashing and the subsequent 1-0 series defeat in West Indies.
Root holds the record for the highest number of wins as England men’s Test captain, his 27 putting him one ahead of Michael Vaughan and three ahead of Sir Alastair Cook and Sir Andrew Strauss. But the past 12 months have been dismal. After winning their opening three Tests of 2021, England have won just one since, losing 11 and drawing five of their last 17.
“After returning from the Caribbean tour and having time to reflect, I have decided to step down,” said Root. “It has been the most challenging decision I have had to make in my career but having discussed this with my family and those closest to me; I know the timing is right.
“I am immensely proud to have captained my country and will look back on the past five years with enormous pride. It has been an honour to have done the job and to have been a custodian of what is the pinnacle of English cricket. I have loved leading my country, but recently it’s hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me and the impact it has had on me away from the game.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank my family, who have lived it all with me and been incredible pillars of love and support throughout. All of the players, coaches and support staff that have helped me during my tenure. It has been a great privilege to have been with them on this journey. I would also like to thank all the England supporters for their unwavering support. We are lucky to have the best fans in the world, and wherever we play, that positivity is something we always cherish and admire, which is a huge drive for all of us out there.
“I am excited to continue representing the [team] and producing performances that will enable the team to succeed. I look forward to helping the next captain, my teammates and coaches in whatever way I can.”
Ben Stokes, who will be the primary name when replacements are discussed, paid tribute to Root on Instagram. “Been a great ride with you my friend,” he wrote. “Watching one of my great mates lead us all out on to the field was a privilege. You have given everything to English cricket and we all want to say thank you for your sacrifices and hard work.”
The ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, said: “Joe has been an exceptional role model during his tenure, balancing the demands of Test captaincy whilst continuing to shine brilliantly through his own personal performances. He has led by example, and that has resulted in more Test wins than any other England captain, alongside a number of famous series home and away victories.
“Joe’s leadership qualities were exemplified by how he led the team through some of the most difficult and uncertain times we have known, playing during the pandemic all over the world, which speaks volumes for him as a leader and as a person.”