Root must follow in his rivals’ footsteps to succeed as captain

England’s defeat at the hands of India over the winter signalled the end of an era as Alastair Cook resigned the Test captaincy.

The Three Lions delivered iconic moments under the reign of Cook, including their victory on the sub-continent in 2012 along with two Ashes triumphs.

However, there were also times of catastrophe with the 5-0 hammering at the hands of Australia down under along with their recent collapse against Virat Kohli’s men.

Having been in the role since Andrew Strauss stepped down in 2012, Cook has left a solid legacy as captain, although not quite enjoying the success of his predecessor.

Joe Root has inherited the captaincy, becoming the last of the group of the world’s current great batsmen to become skipper of his national side.

The 26-year-old has watched Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Kohli all assume the duty and he will now have the opportunity to lead England forward in a vital year for the Three Lions.

All three of Root’s contemporaries have risen to the occasion in their duties, thriving on the pressure to take their game to the next level; none more so than Smith, whose average has shot up into the early 60s. Kohli, meanwhile, proved his talent with bat and his decision-making skills by defeating the Cook-led England before narrowly edging out Australia at the start of the year.

Williamson took over the mantle last year and his batting skills have shown no signs of deterioration, while he guided his side to a comfortable series victory over Pakistan – a team that had reached the top of the world rankings following their draw against England.

As a result, there will be pressure on Root to deliver victories from the off, while remaining at his peak levels with the bat.

Perhaps his biggest challenge will come in the winter, where he will face off against Smith and the Baggy Greens, where England will be aiming to defend the Ashes and avenge their whitewash defeat of the 2013/14 campaign, with the Three Lions backed at 13/5 to win the series in the latest cricket betting odds.

On the surface, Root appears to a good fit to take England forward due to his dynamic approach to the game. He has witnessed firsthand how teams can succeed and fail at the highest level, having played a vital role in victories over India, Australia and South Africa in the past.

He is well-liked amongst his teammates, with the reputation of being a joker. However, his quality with the bat should allow him to command the respect of his side, although his performances will dictate how long that will last.

The lowest days of Cook’s reign came when he struggled with the bat – notably during the Ashes whitewash and the series defeat to Sri Lanka in 2014.

Source: BBC Sport via Twitter

The same could be said for Strauss and Michael Vaughan where their influence waned with the deterioration of their skills at the top of the innings.

It will be important, therefore, for Root to remain at the peak of his powers throughout his time as skipper and to enjoy a strong start to his reign. As Smith, Kohli and Williamson along with Cook proved, their influence has been at its strongest when their batting displays have been at their best.

For Root the captain to thrive, it is perhaps more important for him and England for him to take his game to the next level. Dismissals in the late 70s and 80s have plagued his game over the past year, while he has watched Kohli, Smith and Williamson rack up huge scores.

The pressure will be on from the off and he must deliver peak Root against South Africa to build his side’s momentum ahead of the Ashes at the end of 2017.

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