England’s new era

LONDON, England – The waiting ends for England’s new Test captain Joe Root tomorrow when he will lead his side out for the start of a four-match series against South Africa at Lord’s, nearly four months after his appointment.

For all the positivity surrounding his coronation in February, when he was hailed as the only credible candidate to succeed Alastair Cook, Root’s first squad has received a mixed reception, with doubts over whether it will deliver the “bold and brave” brand of cricket demanded by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

Although the sport is on a high after the recent announcement of a 1.1 billion pounds, five-year TV deal, the five-day game faces a fight to retain the interest of an increasingly diverted public and would relish a champagne summer.

Instead, Root risks uncorking what some predict may be a rather a dull vintage by insisting on the recall of his Yorkshire team-mate Gary Ballance, who has been twice discarded as sub-standard, instead of Middlesex’s Dawid Malan or the promising Surrey opener Mark Stoneman.

With England threatening to field a five-man pace attack for the first time since 1993, the team lacks the fizz normally associated with a new era.

The captain can at least rely on the complete support of his new team. Senior players were counselled on who should succeed Cook and were unanimous in suggesting Root.

“Yes (England coach) Trevor Bayliss spoke to me and others,” said seamer Stuart Broad on Skysports yesterday.

“Joe was the natural successor to Alastair. He has learnt his game at the top level and will thrive on the extra responsibility.”

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