Tubthumper Joe Root urges England’s ODI stalwarts to show leadership qualities
Joe Root has called on England’s most established one-day players to step up and help new captain Jos Buttler guide the side through its current transition phase.
After several years as the dominant force in white-ball cricket under Eoin Morgan, England have crashed back to earth this month following the Dubliner’s retirement.
His successor, Buttler, oversaw 2-1 defeats to India in the Twenty20 and 50-over formats and his side were well beaten in Tuesday’s first ODI against South Africa.
Where Morgan lost only two home series in one-day cricket during his seven years at the helm, Buttler is facing the prospect of losing two in a fortnight unless his side can bounce back at Old Trafford on Friday and Headingley on Sunday.
They will have to do so without the magnetic presence of star all-rounder Ben Stokes, who called time on his ODI career this week in a reaction to a punishing fixture schedule.
Buttler still has five other members of England’s 2019 World Cup-winning squad to call on, with Root, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid all on hand, and former Test captain Root is ready to carry his share.
“I’ve been around this team for a long time now and it’s a great opportunity for guys like myself to stand up and try and fill some of those voids,” he said.
“There’s been a lot of change in a very short space of time and sometimes that can just take a little bit of getting used to. They (Morgan and Stokes) are big figures, influential players, and it creates great opportunities for guys to step right up and really take hold of a few positions within the team. Not just in terms of performance, but in filling those leadership voids as well.
“Jos is doing a great job, there’s no doubt about that. I think everyone wants to contribute and everyone is fully behind him. We’ve all got to do our bit to turn this around.
“I think any senior player has that responsibility. Of course it’s not in an official capacity, but there’s so many different ways you can lead, there’s so many different ways you can help and be a valuable member of a team.”
The good news for England’s hopes of defending their world champion status in India next year is that Root has no intention of becoming the latest player through the exit door.
Having last played a T20 international more than three years ago, he is eager to keep going in 50-over cricket.
“That’s exactly how I feel about things. I want to play as much as I can as often as I can,” he said.
In the immediate term it is back to action and back to Lancashire for a potential decider against the Proteas, returning to the same ground where England lost the India series just five days earlier.
The sense of deja-vu is the latest reminder, if one was still needed, about how condensed the 2022 calendar has been. With 12 limited-overs internationals in 24 days, with two formats, two opponents and eight venues, every last drop is being squeezed from the players.
Stokes, for one, decided that he had been bled dry by the process.
For those still going, Root cited inspiration from an unexpected source – Brit-pop rabble rouser ‘Tubthumping’, a single that first hit the airwaves when he was just six years old.
“It’s like that Chumbawamba song – you get knocked down, but you get back up again – that is exactly how we’ve got to go about things,” he said.
“We’ve got to just turn things around as quickly as we can, because the games do come quite thick and fast. It is hard the schedule, it is, but as a player you can’t really change it. If you want to play you crack on unfortunately.”
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