Joe looks rooted and England has a shocking leadership vacuum

Cricket, featured, Joe Root, The Ashes

Joe Root can’t escape punishment. Belted on the field by Australia he has been hammered in the aftermath of going 2-0 down by a succession of former England captains and the only thing saving him appears to be a total absence of a suitable successor.

In his post-match press conference Root appeared to try to deflect blame for a dismal bowling performance onto his bowlers for their short-length concentration. His words have only shone more focus on his own shortcomings.

After Geoff Boycott and Michael Atherton, along with the UK media, had their say on Root’s failures a a leader, Michael Vaughan joined in on Tuesday on the Follow On podcast.

“Root’s a wonderful batter, right up with the best that I’ve seen in an England jersey, and I think he’ll score more runs than anybody by the time he’s finished and an amount of Test match runs that never ever will be passed because of the nature of Test cricket and the way that white ball cricket is obviously becoming more and more to the fore,” Vaughan said, before launching into a but the size of Kim K’s.

“What he said in his press conference last night and the way he threw the kitchen sink at the bowlers for bowling too short, he should have done that four years ago.

“That was a four years ago kind of moment where he had to drive this team into a position of knowing that if you don’t bowl the right lengths you’re out of the side.

“It’s been happening consistently now for quite a number of years with the Test side.”

Vaughan said he felt the press conference was the culmination of years of frustration for Root, but he only had himself to blame.

Joe Root of England talks to his players after the lunch breakduring day four of the First Test Match in the Ashes series between Australia and England at The Gabba on December 11, 2021 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“As a captain, you have to take responsibility,” he said.

“You’re in charge of the team, you’re in charge of the tactics. You’ve got five seamers and if two are bowling the wrong length you’ve got another three.

“That’s down to the captain top make sure they do bowl that fuller length. If they have a period of half an hour where it’s not going right, you as a captain, as the leader of the team have that power to make sure that the bowlers do bowl that bit fuller.

“If that means you set straighter fields more defensive fields to make sure that they do bowl fuller that’s exactly what you have to do.”

The glaring issue facing England is who should succeed Root.

Vaughan said he could pick five or six white ball captains, but only arrived at one name as a potential England Test captain – Ben Stokes.

“The real concern for me is there’s no one that I look at at the minute,” Vaughan said.

“Ben Stokes could be a captain without any question, and it might get to the stage where it may be what’s required.

“It would be something completely different – an all rounder, it’s not worked in the past.

“We are in a different world where potentially an all rounder could work – particularly someone like Ben Stokes – but ultimately, there’s not that that ready made or that kind of young player where you go ‘he looks like an England captain of the future’.

“Rory Burns was mentioned a year or so ago when he had a run of nice games. He’s battling for his place in the side.

“Haseeb Hameed I don’t know him well enough, but he doesn’t seem to be that captaincy material.

“Jos Buttler, white ball cricket sure but how long will he play Test cricket? Chris Woakes, I can’t see that.

“That’s a little bit of a sign of where the Test team are at – you don’t look at it and go, there’s some leaders.

“I don’t think anyone should carry on because there’s no one else. If Joe Root decides at the end of this series that he’s had his time and moves aside, that’s his decision.

“Whether that’s going to move England forward by Joe moving out of the way again, I don’t think it will, because there’s no one really standing up that you could say could take the team forward any better than Joe Root is trying at the minute.”

Vaughan said he felt for the circumstances around Root’s three Ashes series in charge but he had to take responsibility.

“Quite clearly, this year, there’s been quite a few times there’s been tactical decisions that Joe’s made out in the middle that have been questionable,” he said.

Overall, Vaughan said the nature of England’s feeble start to the series was unsurprising.

“It’s been happening for a while,” he said. “The Test team have been a little bit of in denial that things haven’t been wrong for a long period of time and I’m going back two or three, four years.

“The reality is that we threw so many eggs into the white ball basket after the 2015 World Cup here in Australia, obviously it worked they win the World Cup in 19, but you know over the course of a few years once you take your eye off the Test match cricket ball it’s hard to get back.

“England have taken their eye off the ball. They’ll deny it they’ll say they’ve been in planning but the planning hasn’t been good enough.”

Vaughan said while England will defend their planning, their treatment of Jack Leach was a clear fail.

And he felt the issues in England cricket extend all the way to their use of the Duke ball, which he says is preventing batsmen from being able to build innings in Test cricket.

“If that’s a commercial deal I get that but you go to Duke and say ‘we need to have a ball that’s similar to the Kookaburra, that doesn’t quite do as much.

“Because our system promotes 75 miles an hour consistent line and length that gets plenty of action off the Duke ball.

“That creates a situation where 200 becomes a pass score and competitive in county cricket.

“As a batter you’re getting a pat on the back for getting a quickfire 50. That’s not Test match cricke. Test cricket is seven hours of batting working your way to a century, ebbs and flows. You’re going up and down in the gears because of the kind of situation that you find yourself in the middle.

“As a bowling unit, you know, you’re going to have to put a huge shift in.

“I’m probably going to get criticised for saying that. I don’t know how big a shift you have to put in in county cricket these days to get 10 wickets. I don’t think you have to put a massive shift in to get 20 wickets because I think the wickets really do help and the ball absolutely helps.”

Vaughan, echoing the sentiments of The Roar columnist Brett Geeves, also called on the English team to bring back some hostilities in what has been a surprisingly well mannered series.

“I see on the morning of the game they are all talking to Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon,” said Vaughan.

“I never had a conversation with Steve Waugh back in the day. I wouldn’t have dared go and speak to Glenn McGrath on the morning of the game or Shane Warne. You just didn’t.

“It’s all a bit friendly. I’d get nasty with them … They somehow need to find that on day one. Get into the scrap. Chirp, do whatever, just get into the scrap.”

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