Root backs Cook to lead from the front in SA


England batsman Joe Root has backed Alastair Cook to lead the Three Lions on a successful tour ahead of the four-match Test series against South Africa.

After coming in for criticism in 2014, especially his batting form, Cook has re-established himself as the one of the best opening batsman in world cricket as the left-hander is the leading run-scorer in the longest format this year.

The 30 year-old Cook also has more Test runs than anyone else in his country's history of playing the game and Root is expecting his skipper to lead from the front against the number one-ranked Test team in their own backyard.

Root said of Cook: "He sets the benchmark for everyone to follow and to see him scoring the runs he has this year has been phenomenal.

"He's the leading Test run-scorer in the world in 2015 and now England's leading Test run-scorer of all time so you don't get there without serious scores. Hopefully he can kick on and have a really successful tour of South Africa.

"We know how strong they are and we won't take them lightly, but we're an exciting side ourselves. We've played some really strong cricket throughout the year and hopefully we can that into the series.

"There's a reason why they're number one in the world, because they take 20 wickets a lot and they win Test matches. Of course we're going to have to bat well as a side, but I'm also looking forward to seeing our attack bowl in those conditions as well. It should be a really entertaining spectacle."

The first Test between England and the Proteas starts in Durban on Boxing Day.