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Fresh from an unbeaten century in his first match back in the ranks, Joe Root says he had to step down as England captain when he realised it had become “a very unhealthy relationship” that was taking a “bad toll on my own personal health”.
Root captained England from 2017 until he stepped down this Easter. In a dramatic period, he led England in more Tests than anyone else, while recording more wins and more defeats than any other man.
Ben Stokes has since taken over, and he watched Root guide England to victory in his first match in charge.
Chasing 277 against New Zealand at Lord’s, Root made 115 not out, his first fourth innings century in Test cricket and one that took him past 10,000 runs in the format.
Root’s England won just one of his final 17 matches in charge. At the end of March’s tour of the Caribbean he remained keen to carry on, but says he recognised whilst spending time with his family after the tour that he could no longer do the job.
“It had become a very unhealthy relationship to be honest, the captaincy and me,” said Root. “It started to really take a bad toll on my own personal health. I couldn’t leave it at the ground any more, it was coming home. It wasn’t fair on my family, on people close to me, and it wasn’t fair on myself either.
“I had thrown everything at it and I was determined to help turn this team around but I realised over that time at home that it would have to be in a different way. I’m very excited to do that now and to do everything I can to help Ben really turn this team around and make this team the force it should and can be.
“I’m proud of the way I did the role. I’ll do anything I can to help England win Test matches and be a side people enjoy watching and can be proud of. It got to the stage where it was time for someone else to lead that but I can try and influence it in a different role, in a different way. And I’m very excited to hopefully try and do that now.”
Root said he immediately felt a “big weight had been lifted” when he stepped down.
“I obviously tried as much as I could, but I think I was unaware of how much it was grabbing hold of me, and I just needed to make the decision,” he said. “I made the decision and I knew it was the right thing to do. I felt like a big weight had been lifted and I immediately felt a lot better.
“As hard as it was, obviously it’s been a huge privilege and something that I’m extremely proud to have done, but as I say it’s time for a new phase in my career. And one that I’m very much looking forward to, seeing one of my best mates now take this team forward and start in a way that he has.”
Root admitted that this century, his 26th in Test cricket, felt like one of his most special.
“It certainly feels that way at the minute,” he said. “I did ride my luck a little bit, I sort of mastered that inside edge past the keeper and the stumps, but it was very enjoyable after such a long time, yeah. Hopefully I’ll be able to remember it for a while."