Former England cricketer Matthew Hoggard has leapt to Joe Root’s defence, saying his position as Test captain should not be called into question.
It’s been an unsuccessful Ashes series for England as they find themselves 2-1 down with just one match left and with no chance of retaining the famous urn.
This will be the second series Root has lost to Australia since be became captain in February 2017 – the other a 4-0 defeat Down Under in December 2017/January 2018.
Root and England’s failures have led to the likes of Geoffrey Boycott claiming the Yorkshireman “lacks any feel for captaincy“, while ex-England spinner Graeme Swann said he should never have have been made captain in the first place.
Steve Harmison told talkSPORT that Root is the only man for the job and Hoggard, who helped England beat Australia in the 2005 Ashes with Harmison, echoed his former teammate’s views.
“What tactics are there that Joe Root’s done that we’ve not agreed with? It’s not as if there’s been stupid field placements or everyone is complaining about the selection. What’s he done wrong?
“Yes it’s 2-1 in an Ashes series that we needed to win but Root hasn’t stood out as a player that’s done much wrong.
“At the moment, the biggest enigma has been about how to get Steve Smith out.”
Root has had a busy summer as he was part of England’s ODI side that won the Cricket World Cup earlier this summer. He also plays for England at T20 level.
His workload has arguably had an effect on his form with the bat with Root out for three ducks in six innings before the fifth Test.
It’s led to suggestions that Root should consider quitting playing in T20 matches in a bid to improve his Test form.
When when asked whether Root should abandon either T20 or ODI cricket, Hoggard added: “The only person who can answer that is Joe Root.
“I hate people making decisions on what’s best for another player. Only Joe Root himself knows.
“Yes, you’re allowed to have a bad series and not be in good nick but if Root scores 200 at the Oval [in the fifth Test], what are the critics going to say then?
“Batting at three is difficult for him when he scores his runs at four and to come in at three very quickly like he’s had to against Australia is a hard place to be. Ask Michael Atherton who used to get done by Glenn McGrath all the time.
“It’s not like he’s been playing s*** shots, he’s been got at. He’s not getting himself out. Some of the balls he’s been getting would get anyone out.
“I’m not concerned about him as a captain or his form.”
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Root is hardly the only England player to have struggled for form throughout the series and it’s cost Jason Roy a place in the team going into the final Test.
Roy’s form has been particularly frustrating with his highest score just at 31 leading to claims his game is not suited in a Test format.
And Hoggard has suggested Roy should focus on scoring runs for Surrey before he tries to fight his way back into the England set-up.
Hoggard added: “He [Roy] hasn’t set the world alight in the Test format, has he?
“Yes, it’s very hard opening the batting against Australia with their excellent bowlers especially in a Test arena.
“If he doesn’t start doing it for Surrey then it’s going to be difficult [to get back in the England team].
“He has looked like a rabbit in headlights, a bit out of his depth and if he wants to open the batting for England he’s going to have to go back to Surrey and score some runs.”
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