Former England skipper Nasser Hussain believes that it’s time for incumbent English Test Captain Joe Root to keep his ‘nice’ side aside and start asking tough questions - of both his teammates and the ECB.
A prominent feature during Root’s time as England skipper has been the close relationship he’s had with his teammates which, some have claimed, has resulted in individuals overstaying their welcome. Both Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley were given extended ropes before being axed, and Rory Burns still finds himself in the side despite averaging under 25 in the last 12 months.
Hussain, writing for Daily Mail, claimed that Root needs to pick the right moments to be ‘tough’ and insisted that the England skipper should start demanding more from both his teammates and those at the ECB.
“The England set-up is full of nice people, whether that be Root, Chris Silverwood, Paul Collingwood or Graham Thorpe. But at some stage you have to be tough and tell your team exactly what you think,” Hussain wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“At times, Joe picks the wrong moment to go into battle. He got it wrong on that final morning at Lord’s when he picked a fight with Jasprit Bumrah. He would be better off picking a battle with his top three over their lack of runs, or the ECB over scheduling.
“And maybe he should be picking a battle with Ashley Giles and Silverwood about why he has had one arm tied behind his back and hasn’t had his best Test side at any stage in the last year. I’d like to see an angry Joe then.”
Hussain insisted that Root’s tendency to stick up for his players is a ‘very good thing’, but stressed that there needs to come a point where he starts confronting people and things.
“Root always backs his players and that’s a very good thing, not least in his support of Ben Stokes at the moment, but he should be asking tough questions of those top-order batsmen. They keep making him come in at 20 for two, even though he bats at four to try to give him some sort of respite from the job and focus on his run-scoring.
“If it’s not coming from Root, who within the set-up will ask those questions? People say Silverwood can be tough and is not afraid to confront big issues. We need to see them being confronted.”
The former England skipper lavished praise on Root, who is one win away from becoming England’s most successful Test captain, but claimed that it’s high time for the 30-year-old to start displaying more of the ‘iron first’.
“I’m very proud Joe Root is our England captain. He is soon to become our most successful England captain too. But there’s just one thing I’d suggest.
“He has always looked up to Vaughan from his days at Sheffield Collegiate and where Vaughan stood out as England captain was in his ability to display an iron fist in a velvet glove.
“I’m seeing a lot of velvet glove from Root but we need more of the iron fist, starting at Headingley on Wednesday,” Hussain concluded.