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What went wrong and what is next for England after Joe Root’s exit as captain?

Joe Root’s departure leaves more questions for England (PA)
Joe Root’s departure leaves more questions for England (PA)

Joe Root has resigned as England’s Test captain and in the process became the latest person to lose their job after a disastrous 12 months of red-ball cricket.

Root’s decision to stand down follows head coach Chris Silverwood, batting coach Graham Thorpe and director of cricket Ashley Giles all being dismissed in the wake of a second successive 4-0 Ashes defeat Down Under this winter.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the work required before England host World Test Championship winners New Zealand in six weeks.

Root’s replacement?

The pressure had mounted on Joe Root after another embarrassing defeat to Australia and, despite positive signs on the recent tour of the Caribbean, the end result was another loss. An issue throughout the debate over whether Root should continue or not has been who could replace him. Ben Stokes, who is vice-captain, has long been mooted as a candidate but can he manage being a multi-format player, an all-rounder and Test skipper? James Anderson and Stuart Broad could also throw their names in the hats but the long-standing opening bowlers were dropped for the West Indies series. Another problem remains who will hire the next captain of England’s Test team.

Time ticking for Strauss

Sir Andrew Strauss was parachuted in as interim managing director of England men’s cricket following Giles’ post-Ashes sacking. Some of his early calls have included dropping Anderson and Broad, backing Root to continue for the West Indies tour and making Paul Collingwood interim head coach after Silverwood also lost his role following the Ashes. Strauss’ next job, with the help of headhunters SRI Executive, is to appoint a replacement for Giles, who will then hire the next head coach of England’s Test side, but time is running out. A three-match series with New Zealand begins on June 2 and still there is no-one in position. Ex-Test opener and highly-respected Sky Sports pundit Rob Key has seemingly jumped to front of the queue. Root’s departure means almost every senior job in England men’s cricket is now vacant.

One head coach or two?

Justin Langer resigned as Australia head coach in February
Justin Langer resigned as Australia head coach in February (Jason O’Brien/PA)

If Key gets the managing director role, he will be tasked with appointing Silverwood’s replacement and it could be fulfilled by two people. Strauss has been open about the fact split coaches could work like England have done in the past but Justin Langer, one of the main candidates for the vacant position, would rather be across both red and white-ball cricket given he did the same when he was the man in charge of Australia. Whoever does get the job, a new person needs to be in post in quick time now another new job is required – the next captain of England’s Test side.

Sri Lanka a distant memory

Root and co were in the middle of much happier times when England had secured a second successive away win in Sri Lanka at the start of 2021. On the back of four consecutive series victories, Root and Silverwood were buoyant ahead of the India tour, which would prove the beginning of the end for the pair. The contentious rest and rotation policy – done with good intentions – saw England lose momentum after victory in Chennai and go down 3-1 in the series. With several more key personnel absent for New Zealand’s visit in June, due to Indian Premier League commitments, another series loss occurred and Root’s tactics and the brain trusts’ inability to read pitches suffered more scrutiny after the 4-0 Ashes verse. The demands of life in bio-secure bubbles, the schedule of domestic red-ball and international cricket in general, plus the resilience and quality of England’s batters have all contributed to this dire sequence of one victory in 17 Tests. Now heads have rolled, the red-ball reset can truly begin.