Skipper Joe Root backed to thrive as Test bow looms

July 5, 2017

Joe Root will become the 80th man to captain England in Test cricket tomorrow (July 6th), when England take on South Africa in the first Test at Lord's.
The Yorkshireman will follow in the footsteps of greats like W.G Grace, Douglas Jardine, Colin Cowdrey, Mike Brearley and Michael Vaughan - the latter coming from the same local club in Sheffield - in leading the England team out to the middle. He has promised a change in approach from the more conservative style of Alastair Cook, with more aggression and dynamism.
For fans booking corporate hospitality for the final Test of the series at the Kia Oval, this will be the first chance to see just what a Joe Root-led team looks like, and how he bats with the burden of captaincy around his shoulders.
Fast bowler Stuart Broad, who has won his battle to be fit for the match and played in Nottinghamshire's one-day cup final victory last weekend, told Sky Sports he expects Root to make a success of the captaincy. 
He said: "Joe was a natural successor to Alastair. He's not had a huge amount of captaincy experience because he played for England at a young age, but he learned his game at the top level and I think it will take him to the next level - if he can go higher - and he will thrive on the responsibility."
Discussing his own fitness, Broad said: "I got through the Lord's final here on Saturday without any problems and I actually bowled on the Wednesday and Friday before that with no pain as well. It's pulled up really well. We are training this [Tuesday] afternoon and tomorrow and I am really confident."
A fit Broad will certainly help, particularly if he can produce another of his magical spells when opposing batting line-ups are blown away. One of these came when England clinched victory in the last series against South Africa in Johannesburg, when Broad took five wickets for one run - which came from a dropped catch - as the home side were bowled out for 83.
Root also has good memories of that Test match, making 113 in England's first innings. That was the ninth of his 11 Test centuries in a career that so far has seen him make over 4,500 Test runs at an average of 52.80. 
However, even this stellar performance may not represent his best; these 11 centuries have been accompanied by 27 half centuries and Root has admitted himself that he has not converted enough 50s into three-figure scores. Some batsmen make fewer runs when burdened by the captaincy, but not all; Graham Gooch was a prime example of a player who led from the front by producing his best performances when leading the side.
The England selectors will make a late choice between playing five seamers, including a  debut for Toby Roland-Jones, or playing two spinners. The second option would pair Hampshire left-armer Liam Dawson, who made his debut in India, with Moeen Ali. 
South Africa will be without skipper Faf du Plessis, who has gone home to attend the birth of his first child. Dean Elgar will captain the side in his absence.

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