Former England batter Mark Ramprakash backs Joe Root to continue as captain

The Ashes
Australia Ashes

Joe Root’s future as England captain has come under scrutiny following a torturous Ashes campaign but former batter Mark Ramprakash has backed the Yorkshireman to carry on in the role.

An abject batting performance saw England skittled for 68 in Melbourne to lose the third Test, and with it their slim prospects of regaining the urn, by an innings and 14 runs as Australia guaranteed a series win inside 12 days.

The manner of their latest defeat was labelled “embarrassing” by former England fast bowler Steve Harmison, with Root among those in the firing line despite amassing 1,708 runs, with six hundreds, at an average of 61 this year.

Joe Root's England have been outclassed in Australia (Jason O'Brien/PA)
Joe Root’s England have been outclassed in Australia (Jason O’Brien/PA)

None of his team-mates have reached 550 runs in 2021 and while Ramprakash acknowledges Root may be lacking in tactical acumen, the former England batter hopes the 30-year-old stays in charge provided he wants to and is given help from those higher up the chain to shoulder the burden.

Ramprakash, who played 52 Tests between 1991 and 2002 and is a former England batting coach, told Sky Sports News: “Joe’s a great role model but the players around him have not been up to the mark and that’s why when you look at his position as captain, you have to feel sympathetic for him.

“I don’t think he’s necessarily tactically the best captain we’ve ever had and so he will have to take his share of responsibility in terms of strategy, selection and things like that.

How Root can be assisted

“But equally I think Joe needs support from people above him. People have mentioned a reset for red-ball cricket? Absolutely, we need to have a good hard look at how we help Joe Root if he continues as captain.

“He’s got to weigh up the energy levels, he’s been in the job four to five years now and the job is very demanding. But if he has the drive and desire to carry on then I would stick with him.”

The fallout is well and truly under way after Australia moved into an unassailable 3-0 lead in what has been a one-sided series so far, one in which Harmison feels could be a moment of reckoning for some in the England set-up.

Harmison, part of the side that unforgettably won the 2005 Ashes, told BT Sport: “There is going to be a big inquest. There’s going to be a lot of things blamed, people’s careers on the line.

“When you look at the history of the Ashes in Australia, the only teams that have gone over there and done anything meaningful are the teams that have got first-innings runs.

“Last night, they (Australia) bowled brilliantly but that’s embarrassing, I’m sorry. No fight, there was nothing there. This team are in a worse position than the one the white-ball team were in when they had a reset.”

While Australia were restricted to 267 at the MCG, the writing was on the wall for England when they slumped to 22 for four in the face of some relentless pressure from the opposition fast bowlers.

Steve Harmison (centre) in action for England
Steve Harmison (centre) was part of the side that won the 2005 Ashes (Rui Vieira/PA)

Debuting seamer Scott Boland then applied the finishing touches on Tuesday, ending with astonishing figures of six for seven from just 24 deliveries, as England were put out of their misery.

Wide-ranging critics

Ashes 2005-winning captain Michael Vaughan wrote on Twitter: “England nowhere near good enough.

“They will know that, but seeing a 32-year-old on debut on his home turf with the crowd going berserk is what makes sport so special. Well done Australia. Far too good for England.”

Former England batter Rob Key added on Sky Sports News: “It sums up where England have been in this series. It has to be one of the worst Ashes defeats I can remember.

“In years gone by when England were getting beaten by the Shane Warne team, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting, you sort of knew. In 2003 we went there thinking we’ve got no chance against this lot. But these were the greatest players.

“This time you thought it will be tough for England, but they’ve got a chance. This Australian side is good, but it’s not great.

“And yet now there are so many question marks and the whole of English cricket is going to be brought into question.

“The only positive is it’s going to shake up English cricket for the better. It has to.”