London: A relieved Joe Root said the England Test captaincy had taken a toll on his personal health after he guided his side to a memorable five-wicket win against New Zealand on Sunday in his first match since relinquishing the role.
The 31-year-old stepped down as skipper in the aftermath of England’s 1-0 series defeat in the Caribbean in March, which came on the heels of a disastrous 4-0 loss against Australia in the Ashes.
“It had become a very unhealthy relationship, to be honest — the captaincy and me,” Root told reporters after his unbeaten 115 helped England chase down 277 at Lord’s and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Affecting personal health
“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.”
Root, who was been replaced by Ben Stokes, led England in 64 Tests, winning 27 and losing 26 during his five-year tenure.
The Yorkshire batsman said he was keen to help Stokes succeed in his new role and make England a Test force again.
“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,” added Root, who also reached 10,000 Test runs on Sunday.
“I’m very excited to do that now and to do everything I can to help Ben really turn this team around.”
Very achievable target
Former Australia skipper Mark Taylor has tipped Root to surpass Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar’s record for most runs in Test history.
Root has a total of 10,015 Test runs and is 5,906 behind Tendulkar, who notched up 15,921 in a career spanning 200 Tests.
Australian legend Taylor felt that at 31, Root has many more years of Test cricket left in him, adding that Tendulkar’s record was “very achievable”.
“Root has minimum five years left in him, so I think Tendulkar’s record is very achievable,” opined Taylor on Sky Sports.
“Root is batting as well as I have ever seen him bat over the last 18 months to two years. He is in the prime of his career, so there is 15,000 runs-plus for him if he stays healthy,” added Taylor.
England great Alastair Cook was also all praise for the former Test skipper, saying on BBC Test Match Special, “I just love [Root’s] batting.”
Root is only the second from his country to have reached 10,000 Test runs after Cook, who quit international cricket in 2018, having scored 12,472 runs.
Meanwhile, New Zealand head to Nottingham for the second Test against England with pride wounded and their World Test Championship (WTC) campaign on a knife-edge after a deflating loss at Lord’s.
Less than a year after beating India at the same venue to claim the inaugural WTC trophy, New Zealand’s five-wicket defeat on Sunday left them seventh in the standings and another setback at Trent Bridge could prove terminal for their title defence.
The Black Caps could do with all hands on deck to turn things around, but are unlikely to have all-rounder Collin de Grandhomme available for the match starting at Trent Bridge on Friday after he suffered a heel injury while bowling on day three.
New Zealand have options to cover De Grandhomme’s pace bowling but may miss his lower order batting.
The Black Caps’ problems are higher up the order, though.
The top four produced only 50 runs at Lord’s, with captain Kane Williamson’s long-awaited return from a troublesome elbow injury falling flat with scores of two and 15.
The opening combination of Tom Latham and Will Young has become a problem. Neither batsman has scored more than 15 runs in a knock in their last three Tests.
Even with those deficiencies, New Zealand had the match in their hands on day three at 250 for four, only to lose their last six wickets for 34 runs and pave the way for century-maker Root to guide England to an unlikely win.
New Zealand head north to Nottingham with some positives, with middle order batsman Daryl Mitchell (108) and wicketkeeper Tom Blundell (96) having combined for a majestic 195-run stand in the third innings.
Selectors will hope Henry Nicholls has recovered from his calf injury and can add steel to the top order.
Yet it will take more than a few cameo performances to turn the series around for a team that has struggled to consistently play as a unit since their unlikely WTC triumph last June.