Is Joe Root really a good captain?

England have experienced a disastrous start to their Ashes campaign against Australia. Joe Root and his men have been thrashed in the first two Test matches and will enter the third Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) with their backs against the wall.

And, the leadership of Joe Root has come under the scanner. From Ian Chappell to Brendon McCullum, several former cricketers are not happy with the way Root has led the England side in this Ashes series.

Now, is Joe Root a good captain? Does he deserve the harsh criticism that he is getting at the moment? First, let us take a look at the records of England players who have led the England side in the most number of Test matches in the table below.

Player Name Matches Won Lost Draw Win %
Alastair Cook 59 24 22 13 40.67%
Joe Root 58 27 23 8 46.55%
Michael Atherton 54 13 21 20 24.07%
Michael Vaughan 51 26 11 14 50.98%
Andrew Strauss 50 24 11 15 48%

 

So, what is the fuss all about? Among the top 5 players who have led England in Tests for the most number of times, Root has the third-best win percentage. Also, the difference between the win percentages of the second-placed Andrew Strauss and the third-placed Root is just a meagre 1.45%. Also, Root has led the England side to the most wins among the five captains as well.

Now, let us go ahead and look at Root’s record as a captain in away Test matches in the table below.

Away Matches Away Wins Away Losses Away Draws Away Win %
27 10 14 3 37%

In away Tests, England have won 10 out of the 27 matches that they have played under Root, and that means a win percentage of 37. Under Cook, England played 31 away matches and won just eight, which translates to a win percentage of just 25.80%. Under Strauss, England played 19 away Test matches and won just five, which translates to a win percentage of just 26.31%. Clearly, Root has a better record than Cook and Strauss in away Test matches.

Yes, England are on the back foot, with the Aussies 2-0 up in the Ashes. But then, to single out Root for that and portray him as a poor captain would be doing a disservice to a man who has served the nation with aplomb for a decade in the whites.

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