Joe Root steps down as England Test captain

"I loved leading my country but recently it's hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me"

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Joe Root has stepped down as England's Test captain with immediate effect.
Root has been in the role for five years and has overseen more games (64), wins (27) and defeats (26) than any other England captain. But his side have won only one of their last 17 Test matches, a run of form that has made his position untenable.
Root has insisted after England's defeat in their most recent Test, against West Indies in Grenada, that he remained "very passionate about taking this time forward" and that his team had made "big improvements" and played "some brilliant cricket" in that series, despite their 1-0 defeat.
But public opinion had turned, with several of his recent predecessors calling publicly for him to step down - the man he succeeded, Alastair Cook, said last week that his relentless positivity risked making him sound "deluded". Since returning home to his wife and two young children, he has changed his mind and opted to step down.
"After returning from the Caribbean tour and having time to reflect, I have decided to step down as England's men's Test captain," Root said. "It has been the most challenging decision I have had to make in my career but having discussed this with my family and those closest to me, I know the timing is right.
"I am immensely proud to have captained my country and will look back on the past five years with enormous pride. It has been an honour to have done the job and to have been a custodian of what is the pinnacle of English cricket.
"I had loved leading my country but recently it's hit home how much of a toll it has taken on me and the impact it has had on me away from the game."
Root confirmed that he will continue to play international cricket and said he was "excited to continue… producing performances that will enable the team to succeed". He added: "I look forward to helping the next captain, my team-mates and coaches in whatever way I can."
Ben Stokes, Root's vice-captain, is the early favourite to succeed him as captain. Rory Burns, Stuart Broad and Jos Buttler are among the other contenders, though none is certain of a place in England's best XI.
Root's resignation comes at a time of huge upheaval in English cricket, with a power vacuum at the ECB following England's series defeats in the Ashes and against West Indies: the men's team has no managing director, no head coach, no selector and no Test captain.
Tom Harrison, the ECB's chief executive, said Root had been "an exceptional role model during his tenure, balancing the demands of Test captaincy whilst continuing to shine brilliantly through his own personal performances".
"Joe's leadership qualities were exemplified by how he led the team through some of the most difficult and uncertain times we have known, playing during the pandemic all over the world, which speaks volumes for him as a leader and as a person," Harrison added. "I know that every single person who has played or worked under Joe's captaincy will speak of his integrity and humility as a person, as much as his determination and example as a leader.
"Off the field, Joe has been no different. It has been a privilege and a huge pleasure to have worked with him in his capacity as our Test captain, and I know he'll continue to drive English cricket forward as a senior player, offering his wealth of experience and advice to support his successor."
Root was appointed captain in 2017 after Cook's resignation. Highlights of his tenure included series wins against India at home in 2018 and against South Africa away in 2019-20, while successive 4-0 series defeats in Australia and last summer's losses at home to New Zealand and India were among the low moments.
Captaincy appeared to affect his batting for parts of his tenure, but he overcame those struggles emphatically in 2021. His 1708 runs last year were the most by an England player - and third-most by any player - in a calendar year, made even more impressive by his team-mates' run of poor form.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98