Root describes relief in giving up England captaincy

‘It had become a very unhealthy relationship’: Joe Root describes relief in giving up England captaincy and admits ‘a big weight’ has been lifted after hitting one of his finest Test hundreds against New Zealand

  • Joe Root described his relationship with the England captaincy as ‘unhealthy’ 
  • Root stepped down in April after an England-record 64 Tests in charge
  • 31-year-old claims captaincy role ‘wasn’t fair’ to his family or those around him 
  • Root scored an unbeaten century as England defeated New Zealand on Sunday
  • It was his first Test since handing captaincy over to team-mate Ben Stokes 

No sooner had Joe Root completed one of the finest of his 26 Test hundreds than he was describing the relief he felt at giving up the captaincy – and the toll it took on his mental health.

Root stepped down in April after an England-record 64 Tests in charge, having insisted barely a fortnight earlier, at the end of a miserable 1-0 defeat in the Caribbean, that he wanted to keep calm and carry on. Time at home, though, brought clarity: after one win in 17 games, it was the moment to move on.

Yesterday at Lord’s, as he basked in the glow of a run chase magnificently marshalled, it all came flooding out.

Joe Root says he’s relieved to have given up the England captaincy to team-mate Ben Stokes

‘It had become a very unhealthy relationship to be honest, the captaincy and me,’ he said. ‘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 or people close to me, and it wasn’t fair on myself either.

‘I think I was unaware of how much it was grabbing hold of me, and I just needed to make the decision. I realised over that time at home that it would have to be in a different way.

‘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.

‘It got to the stage where it was time for someone else to lead, but I can try and influence the team in a different role, in a different way. I’m very excited to do everything I can to help Ben make them the force it should and can be.’

Root, 31, scored an unbeaten century as England defeated New Zealand on Sunday

During his five years as Test captain, Root spent many a press conference praising Ben Stokes for his latest heroics. Now, at the first opportunity, he has started to rebalance the ledger.

‘It’s my turn now,’ said Root. ‘That’s a great motivator for me moving forward, with the amount of amazing things Ben did for this team under my leadership.

‘It’s a great opportunity for me in the next phase of my career to do that for him. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do some of the things he has done, but I can certainly try.’

Such were the unusual circumstances of Root’s innings – the start of a new era, his first game back in the ranks, his first century in the fourth innings of a Test, a formidable run chase – that his achievement of ticking off 10,000 runs felt almost incidental.

Root, who’s unbeaten 115 from 170 balls included 12 fours, passed 10,000 test runs

And while Root was thrilled to become only the second England player, after Alastair Cook, to reach the landmark, it was also clear what memories he would be taking with him from a gloriously chaotic few days at Lord’s.

‘When you walk through the dressing-room or through the Long Room and you’re high-fiving the rest of the group and you can see the genuine joy and elation on their faces – that’s the one thing I’ve missed the most over the last year and a bit,’ he said.

‘And it’s one thing I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot more of this summer.’

He said it with a smile, of course. But New Zealand have been warned.

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