Shane Watson feels ‘desperately sorry’ for England captain Joe Root

The Ashes
Joe Root

Former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson has called on fans to stop singling out England captain Joe Root since he not in charge of a strong team.

Root, who scored a remarkable 1708 runs in Test cricket in 2021, has taken the brunt of the criticism after his side have lost three matches in the ongoing Ashes series inside just 12 playing days.

Writing in his column for The Times, Watson revealed how sorry he feels for the England skipper during the series where his own performances had not inspired his team.

“I feel desperately sorry for Root. Things haven’t gone to plan. The bowlers in Adelaide, when the ball was moving around, did not perform well; the batsmen haven’t scored anywhere near enough runs,” Watson wrote.

“He’s copping it, but I suppose that comes with being captain of an English touring team who are not doing well.

“I just wish they’d take a bit of heat off Root, because this England team are not the best.”

Root’s run tally in 2021 has only ever been exceeded by two men – Mohammad Yousuf and Viv Richards – but Watson was amazed that the right-hander had not yet scored a Test ton in Australia.

No big scores in Australia

“If the captain is not scoring runs, it provides more challenges for the leadership group, and although Root has played nicely, he has not yet managed the big scores he would have liked,” the 40-year-old continued.

“But he has had a truly extraordinary year with the bat.

Joe Root, on his first tour to Australia in 2013-14, when I was playing, struggled with the ball that bounced and he got caught in the slips and gully quite often.

“It took him a tour to find his best method, but look at him now. He’s got great control over his game and a great understanding of what works.

“The young England batsmen on this tour need to decide: what are your scoring options, what are your defensive options? Leaving well is a big thing.

“The Australians are doing it well, Marnus Labuschagne in particular. If the ball is outside his body line, unless it’s really an attacking stroke, he is not playing at it.

“England are playing with bat outside the body and that’s feeding the slips and wicketkeeper.”

Watson also spoke of the weakness in the England bowling line-up and how they need a strong spinner in the side as well as fit fast bowlers.

“You need to be fit to bowl in Australia, as Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were when South Africa won here. You also need a high-quality spinner,” he concluded.

“Even if they fail to take a lot of wickets, they will maintain the pressure and give the fast bowlers a rest in the heat.

“England had one in Graeme Swann in 2010-11, when he bowled incredibly well and played a huge part in England winning the series, but that hasn’t happened this time.”