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International Cricket - Cricket: Root record far from perfect

Joe Root has finally bitten the bullet and resigned as England's Test captain, leaving a mixed legacy from his 64-match time at the helm.

While holding the captaincy Root has made more runs than any other Englishman in the role - 5,295 - while also overseeing a record 27 victories, as well as a record 26 defeats.

Amazingly, Root is still only 31 years of age, so the Three Lions will be hoping he will continue to shine with the bat for some years to come, especially now the pressure of leading an underperforming side has been lifted from his shoulders.

And it is clear that Root is far from done with red-ball cricket for his country, saying: "I am excited to continue representing the Three Lions and producing performances that will enable the team to succeed.

"I look forward to helping the next captain, my team-mates and coaches in whatever way I can."

Root's record very much a mixed bag

Root took charge of England back in 2017, taking up the reins following the tour of India under Alastair Cook and the transition looked like a smooth one as a home series against South Africa was won 3-1.

The classy right-hander also marked his first game in charge with a magnificent innings of 190 against the Proteas at Lord's.

However, the following winter would be one to forget as the tourists were thrashed 4-0 in the Ashes series in Australia and also lost out in New Zealand, with Root appearing to be a little slow to make his leadership mark on the team.

In the next couple of years there would be a notable series win at home to India and also in South Africa, but in between those two successes the hosts were unable to win back the Little Urn as a home Ashes series finished 2-2.

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Sadly for Root it is the clashes with Australia which have so often defined the legacies of past England captains, as the likes of Mike Brearley, Mike Gatting and Ray Illingworth have discovered when they tasted success.

And almost the final straw came with another heavy loss Down Under last winter, with only a draw in Sydney ensuring a whitewash was avoided.

The last blow was actually delivered by the West Indies, who won by ten wickets in Grenada to take the three-Test series 1-0 after the opening two clashes had ended in draws, with Root having overseen just one victory in his last 17 matches in charge.

Limitations in Root's leadership

Although undoubtedly the finest batter in the side, Root often looked far from a natural as captain, being seen as reactive on many occasions, rather than taking the bull by the horns and trying to dictate to the opposition.

Field placings were questioned by many observers, while his choice of bowling options also came under the microscope, especially when paceman Jofra Archer was forced away from the Test arena by an elbow injury after, it appeared to most, that he had been over-bowled.

Root also seemed ill at ease with his spinning options, with off-spinner Moeen Ali eventually opting out of red-ball cricket, while his successor - Jack Leach - seemed at times to be used in the wrong situation and not be entirely trusted.

The omission of England greats James Anderson and Stuart Broad from the tour of the Windies earlier this year hinted strongly at some division in the ranks and their absences caused much debate - which will now centre on whether they will return under the new man in charge.

Options limited in search for successor

Quite who will take over from Root is a difficult question to answer as there don't seem to be too many obvious candidates.

All-rounder Ben Stokes is the standout option as he is currently vice-captain and one of few who are certain of their place in the team, with England 13/8 to win outright the Ashes series next year.

However, English cricket remains scarred by the memory of the failed decision to make Ian Botham skipper and they may opt to keep Stokes where he is, as a senior lieutenant rather than the captain.

Kent's Sam Billings has been mentioned despite having played in just one Test match, while James Vince is highly regarded as a skipper with Hampshire on the county circuit.

Vince has failed to deliver with the bat when given his chance in the Test side in the past, but he has shown glimpses of his undoubted talent and he could offer a decent option to lead the much-vaunted 'red-ball reset'.

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