Chris Woakes has backed “world-class” Joe Root to remain as England captain despite their humiliating Ashes defeat to Australia.
England’s hopes of regaining the urn were ended in Melbourne this week, as they suffered defeat by an innings and 14 runs during the third Test and they are now staring down the barrel of series whitewash (Series correct score – Australia 5-0 8/11).
It has been a dismal tour for England, as they lost the series in the space of just 12 days of action and with the inquest now firmly underway, the future of Root as captain is one of the main talking points.
There is no doubting Root’s quality with the bat, as he has enjoyed an impressive year on a personal note, contributing 1,708 Test runs in 2021, the third highest ever by a batter in a calendar year.
However, the Yorkshireman’s leadership qualities have been called into question, with England having lost nine of their last 12 Tests and they have been thrashed in six consecutive matches overseas.
This certainly appears to be the toughest period of the 30-year-old’s reign as captain, but he is unlikely to be overawed, as he is set to become England’s most experienced Test skipper during next week’s fourth Test in Sydney, as he will lead his side for a 60th time, one more than his predecessor Alastair Cook.
The 30-year-old, who will celebrate his birthday on Thursday, also appears to still have the support of the dressing room, with all-rounder Woakes (18/1 to be England’s top series wicket-taker) in no doubt that he wants Root to remain as skipper.
“Absolutely,” Woakes told reporters when asked about Root. “Joe is a great cricketer, he’s got a great cricket brain and I think his record as England captain is actually pretty good.
“Definitely it feels like Joe will continue. Hopefully he will. It’s clear that the captaincy isn’t having an effect on his batting, which a lot of the time with captains can be the case. The fact that he’s scoring the runs he is, is great for the team.”
Woakes has also urged the rest of the England team to ease some of the burden on their captain by contributing more runs with the bat. Root has scored 253 runs during the series at an average of 42.16, Dawid Malan is the only other member of the squad to average above 30.
“It would be great if we could help him out with that and score a few more runs around him,” Woakes added.
“Joe is a world-class player who has obviously had a fantastic year. When a guy bats as well as he has you would expect us to put in a lot stronger performances than we have.”
The fourth Ashes Test will get underway at Sydney Cricket Ground on January 5 (Australia 4/7, Draw 23/10, England 6/1 – Match Winner).