Former England cricketer Geoffrey Boycott believes Stuart Broad should replace Joe Root as captain – but warned his country that they will ‘probably not’ improve regardless.
Last Friday, Root resigned as England captain after originally replacing Alastair Cook in the role. The 31-year-old holds the record for the highest number of matches and wins as captain.
However, his last series as captain ended in a loss to the West Indies, with the crushing 10-wicket loss in the third Test ensuring England remain winless in nine matches following a dismal Ashes tour. Boycott welcomed Root’s decision to step down and offered his thoughts on his replacement before issuing a chilling warning regarding the immediate future of the England team.
“As soon as the West Indies series finished I said Joe Root should resign as England captain,” Boycott wrote in his column in The Telegraph . “My view was that Stuart Broad should be appointed for the short term as something different.
“He has a hard edge and listening to him talk cricket on TV in interviews and commentary I have been impressed. As a bowler, he would bring a different perspective.”
Boycott speaks of warnings from history, including the similarities between Ben Stokes and icon Ian Botham, two sensational all-rounders. The 81-year-old cites how the mercurial Botham struggled as his form suffered tremendously after he accepted the captaincy – and he is worried history could repeat itself with Stokes.
Boycott listed a number of past captains who found some level of success, including Tony Greig and Ray Illingworth – with the latter finding success largely due to the talent around him. He laments the quality of the current team, suggesting Root was doomed as ‘no matter how well Joe batted, he couldn’t bat for the rest of the team’.
He criticised England’s batters for their lack of basic technique, patience, limited concentration, and judgement. The former Yorkshire country cricketer then made his haunting prediction that England are set to struggle regardless of who is the captain.
“I think, like me, the cricketing public are so down and disheartened with English red ball cricket that the captaincy issue is not a big deal,” Boycott continued. “It should be but we have had so much promise, potential, PR speeches from captain and coaches that now we have turned off because the team keeps losing.
“And the only reason England keep losing is because they aren’t good enough. We don’t want to believe it but deep down we know it is true and it’s that truth that hurts and dispirits us.
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“We keep hoping English cricket will get better but we are not convinced it will. So whoever is made captain will it change anything? Probably not.”
Boycott’s international Test career spanned 17 years, and so he undoubtedly understands the necessary traits required within a captain. He believes the role is about tactical awareness and man management, and Root was a popular player – but only having a high cricket IQ can truly help win games.
He suggested captaincy and the tactical nous required is something that cannot be learned for it is based on instinct. He also added that captains must get the best out of their players and Root simply was not able to do that despite his universal favour. Boycott added: “Better that a captain is hard and tough and not liked but wins. Sport is not a popularity contest.”
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