England should never have made Joe Root captain, says Graeme Swann

TOM DUTTON
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Three-times Ashes winner Graeme Swann believes Joe Root should never have been appointed England captain in the first instance.

Root's captaincy has faced increased scrutiny since defeat at Old Trafford on Sunday confirmed England's Ashes had ultimately ended in failure. Despite the heroic rescue mission led by Ben Stokes at Headingley, the hosts are now 2-1 down with one match to play knowing Australia will retain the urn even in the event of a drawn series.

However, Swann believes any decision now to remove the captaincy from Root would be "bonkers", and has instead questioned the call to appoint him to the position back in 2017.

"I don't think he should’ve been made captain in the first place because I think it blunted his batting and I was worried it would do that," Swann told Standard Sport.

"He tries to be a person who he's not naturally, being sensible and restrained. I think he's a larrikin and a cheeky-younger-brother type of character - and that's how he bats best. I'd like to see that again."

A brief look at the numbers highlights Root's alarming dip in form with the bat. As well as failing to convert any of three half-centuries during the Ashes summer, Root has registered three ducks in his last five innings having never before scored more than one during a single series.

A brilliant 190 on debut as captain against South Africa two summers ago proved to be something of a false dawn. Root went into that series with a Test average of 52.8 but his numbers have dwindled and he averages just 40.87 in the matches since.

He was awarded the captaincy in the absence of alternative candidates, and it's perhaps fair to suggest the same is keeping the 28-year-old in the role now.

Asked who else would have fit the brief when Alastair Cook stepped down two years ago, Swann was unable to present an obvious solution.

"Jos Buttler has played every Test since, maybe Jos," the Betfair Ambassador said. "I don't know, but I don't think making your best player your captain is a successful experiment."

Swann believes Root was given the captaincy following the success of fellow Yorkshireman Michael Vaughan, who led the side through an iconic period for five years from 2003. "Vaughan was a brilliant leader, so everyone thought Joe would be," explained Swann. But while Vaughan read the ebb and flow of Test cricket superbly, Root's decision-making at key times has been called into question in recent weeks.

Out of form: Root has scored five (Getty Images)

Whether hastily jumping to plans B or C when pressing on with plan A might have brought results, or reacting too late when the match is already beyond his side, Root has not presented himself as a tactician.

However, Swann says England have much more immediate issues, namely the top order.

"To look at Joe and say the captain's the reason we didn't win this is bonkers," he added.

"The batsmen didn't score enough runs - Steve Smith outscored Joe Root and that's why we lost.

"To focus on the captaincy now rather than the issue at hand, which is the top order scoring runs, is looking at the wrong thing altogether."

Graeme Swann was speaking at a Betfair Exchange event, for more head to www.betfair.com/swann and to find out more about the new Betfair Exchange ‘How to Hub’ head to www.betfair.com/howtoexchange.


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