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Joe Root has declared his desire to remain as England captain after another dismal Ashes defeat, but believes major structural change to is required to the domestic game because players reaching Test level are “doing it in spite of county cricket, not because of it”.
Root said there are “no excuses” for performances like the one that saw England lose all 10 wickets for 56 runs to lose in three days in the final Test in Hobart.
Root accepts the captaincy decision may be taken out of his hands after his second 4-0 defeat in Australia, and also hopes that Chris Silverwood remains in post as Head Coach (which appears less likely). That said, he accepts the pair may need to be “harder” on the players.
He has also confirmed that he will not be entering the IPL auction next month as he throws “all my energy" into reviving the Test team.
He said: “I’ll keep sacrificing as much as I can because I care so much about Test cricket in our country”.
Root has echoed ECB Managing Director of Cricket Ashley Giles’ belief that the structure of the domestic game needs tilting back towards red-ball cricket if the Test team is to thrive.
“How long have you got?” said Root, when asked what needs to change at first-class level.
“What I’d say is, what incentives in county cricket right now are there to open the batting, right at the top of the order? What incentives are there to be a spinner? And what incentives are there to bowl fast?
“There don’t seem to be many, the way it’s set up, the way the games seem to unfold, whether you look at the first-innings average scores of 250 or whatever they are, how short the games last.
“I’m not going to make excuses for a performance like that, because that’s not good enough for Test cricket. It doesn’t matter how inexperienced you are, what opposition you’re playing against. Even on that surface, which did offer for the seamers, we’re a better team than that and we’ve got to give a better account of ourselves.
“But what I will say is, anyone that’s coming into this Test team at the minute is doing it in spite of county cricket, not because of county cricket.
“I think there are definitely things that need to change, some things that need to change over a long period of time – it won’t happen overnight – but there are a lot of things that can change quite quickly that would hopefully make a significant impact for youngsters and guys in and around this team to ready themselves better.
“You look at some of the young batters – when have they had the opportunity to go out with 450, 500 on the board and deal with scoreboard pressure? You don’t practice it in county cricket, the only time they’re exposed to it is in this environment. When have they had to go out to save a Test match against a turning ball in spinning conditions?
“They’ve never been exposed to it. And yet we’re expected to go to the subcontinent and win games against the best spinners in the world, we’re expected to come here and deal with pace and bounce when we might face one guy who bowls over 90mph a season.
“So how can we encourage that? What changes can be made? We need to produce better wickets. How are we going to do that? Hopefully by playing at a better time of the year. By flattening the seam on the ball. Maybe giving our seamers the opportunity to bowl a Kookaburra ball, if that’s going to help. Double the batting points. Whatever it is. Incentivise first-innings leads by getting over 400.
“There are a number things that I think we can do quite quickly to give our guys a better opportunity to ready themselves for this environment.
“And obviously with that it’ll nullify running in and bowling at 70mph, it’ll encourage guys to try and create new angles, be either more consistent of find a different way of taking wickets, and as well it’ll give spinners an opportunity to bowl in the first half of the season.”
Root said he believes he retains the support of his players after 61 Tests in charge.
“I feel like I’m the right man for the job,” he said. “I’ve got the appetite, I feel passionately about it, I think I’ve got the support of the guys around me. I’m very experienced in the role now. Hopefully that’s what happens moving forward but it’s another step forward that needs to happen.”