London: Nasser Hussain urged Joe Root to lead in his own way and keep piling on the runs after he was appointed as England’s new Test captain on Monday.
Yorkshire batsman Root, previously England’s vice-captain, had long been the favourite to take over from Alastair Cook, who resigned as Test skipper last week after a national record 59 matches in charge.
Hussain was England captain from 1999-2003 and, as Root will have to do, combined the duties of leadership with being one of the side’s top-order batsmen.
“Two bits of advice I’d give Joe are, one, do it your way because when it goes wrong it’ll be you taking the blame and the second bit is look after your batting,” Hussain told Sky Sports.
“That is the most important thing. I think England cricket fans will be saying ‘yeah we love his captaincy but we want him to continue scoring runs’,” he added, with Root currently averaging an impressive 52.80 in Tests.
“It generally follows a pattern where initially there’s a massive lift in performance but for most England captains if there’s a dip in form of the team then the weight of responsibility and the pressure lands on your shoulders. That can affect you and your form.”
– ‘In your face’ –
Meanwhile Hussain said he expected England to play a more aggressive brand of Test cricket with Root at the helm than had been the case under Cook and the opener’s immediate predecessor as skipper, Andrew Strauss.
“As captain I think he’ll be different to Cook. More in the face of the opposition, more blatantly in charge of the team. That’s Joe being Joe,” he said.
“We’ve played under a couple of defensive captains in Strauss and Cook.
Does he need to take it in on in a more aggressive way? He has aggressive players in (Ben) Stokes, (Stuart) Broad and (Jonny) Bairstow. He’s got to look at the side and create a culture going forward.”
As for the 26-year-old Root’s reputation as a ‘cheeky’ cricketer, Hussain said: “Don’t be fooled by the boyish smile…he likes to joke around but there’s a very serious side to Joe Root as we’ve seen in his cricket. He’s a steely character.”
It was a point emphasised by Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon, who said the fact Root had a mere four first-class matches as stand-in captain with the White Rose county behind him would not hinder his ability to lead England.
“He’s a born leader and he has an excellent cricket brain,” Moxon told BBC Radio Five Live.
“He’s an experienced cricketer although he’s only 26. He’s someone who’s studied the game so it’s not as though because he’s captain he has to start thinking about tactics and opposition…he’s been doing it all through his career and I’m sure he’ll do a very good job,” added Moxon, himself a former England batsman.
As for concerns the pressure of leadership will diminish Root’s run-scoring ability, Moxon said: “Knowing Joe it will probably enhance his batting rather than affect it.”