Ashes: Joe Root keen to continue as England captain and retains support of the ECB

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  • Joe Root
    Joe Root
    English cricketer (born 1990)
  • Chris Silverwood
    English Test and county cricketer (born 1975)
 (AFP /AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

Head Coach Chris Silverwood is the most at risk of England’s leaders when the Ashes post-mortem takes place in the coming weeks, with captain Joe Root keen to continue, at this stage, and retaining the support of ECB top brass.

The early signs are that Root, who equalled his predecessor Alastair Cook’s record of 59 Tests in charge of England’s Test team, has the appetite to remain in post having lost the Ashes for the second time down under.

With two Tests to go, there is time for that to change. But he does have the backing of the ECB’s senior leadership, who have made it clear to him that they do not believe there is a better man for the job.

The only remotely viable candidate to take over from Root is his vice-captain and close friend Ben Stokes. He captained England in one Test in 2020 when Root was on paternity leave, but is an all-format all-rounder who plays the IPL and has sat out this year with injury and mental health issues.

Root has had a remarkable year with the bat, scoring a record 1,708 runs, but has received little support from his team-mates in a side that has suffered.

While Root is not blameless for England’s Ashes struggles, Silverwood is more likely to take the rap.

As Head Coach and Selector, he has huge power in the setup and is understood to be struggling to retain the confidence of his players, old and young, after England lost for the ninth time in their last 12 Tests.

His dressing down of the squad after the Adelaide Test received a mixed reaction from the group, and clearly did not elicit the sort of response desired in the drubbing at Melbourne. It would be a surprise if he retained his role after the tour concludes.

Ashley Giles, the ECB Director of Cricket who appointed Silverwood, will return to Australia ahead of the Sydney Test having spent Christmas at home to begin the debrief alongside Tom Harrison, the CEO, who is expected to leave in the next year.

Harrison informed Root after the defeat in Melbourne that he has ECB’s support.

Root also received backing from Chris Woakes, one of nine England players to train the day after the defeat in Melbourne. Woakes said Root retained the support of the squad.

“Absolutely. 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,” said Woakes.

“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 build some partnerships with him, and score a few more runs around him. But Joe is a great cricketer, he’s got a great cricket brain. I think his record as England captain is pretty good, as far as I’m aware. Definitely feel like Joe will continue.

“Joe is a world class player who has obviously had a fantastic year. Unfortunately as a team we haven’t been able to bat well around him. When a guy bats as well as he has you would expect us to put in a lot stronger performances than we have.

“It’s great, the year Joe has had and the runs he’s scored, it shows the quality player we know he is. I’m sure Joe will have many more years like he’s just had and hopefully we can bat better around him as well.”

When asked about Silverwood, Woakes was equivocal.

“We’ve got two more games,” he said. “It’s think it’s hard for us to focus on… who am I to talk about people’s futures other than my own, to be brutally honest?

“We want to show a lot of character, a lot of fight. We want to put some pride back into wearing that badge, which we certainly have tried in this series, but we need to try even harder and put that right. The group of players, the management and the staff we have out here have the backing of the players to hopefully put things right, over the next two games.”

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