Joe Root’s former Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie believes England’s new Test captain is ready for the role and says he can’t wait for next summer’s Ashes series to see him go head-to-head with Steve Smith.
Root was confirmed as England’s 80th Test skipper last week following Alastair Cook's resignation from the position after a record 59 Tests at the helm.
Quick Single: Root named new England captain
Gillespie, who led Yorkshire out of the second division of the County Championship and took the side to back-to-back titles before ending a five-year tenure last year, said the 26-year-old’s lack of captaincy experience won’t be an issue.
"There’s been a lot of talk (about) ‘is he ready? He hasn’t had much experience,'" Gillespie told cricket.com.au of Root, who has captained his county just three times.
"He’ll be fine, he’s played 53 Test matches now. He’s 26 years of age. I think it’s the right time.
"He had the attributes where you said, ‘yeah, he could captain England one day’. So it’s not a surprise to me to see him leading England.
"Once he got into the England set-up, the respect he commanded as a player and even as a young player (was noticeable).
"I think Alastair Cook made the right decision to step aside and now its Joe’s turn."
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While the burden of captaincy has weighed down some previous England Test captains, the recent run-scoring precedent set by some of Root’s contemporaries after their appointments stands in stark contrast.
Both Smith and his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli have thrived as Test leaders; the Australian has bumped his Test batting average up to 73.73 since taking over the captaincy (from 51.83 as a non-skipper), while Kohli has taken his mark from 41.13 to 67.22.
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New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, albeit over a smaller sample of 10 Tests, also averages more than five runs more per innings as captain, and Gillespie believes Root is in a similar mould to the superstar trio.
"It’s an exciting time for cricket," he said, "We’ve got four young men at the top of the game leading their countries.
"It’s an exciting time as a supporter of the game.
"I’m really looking forward to the Ashes next time in Australia at the end of this year.
"Two young captains leading their countries, I think it’s going to be fantastic."
While Cook will no longer lead England in the longest format, he will continue to open the batting as he pursues a host of Test run-scoring records.
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With 11,057 Test runs, the highest-ever mark by Englishman, the left-hander has the likes of former Australia captains Allan Border (ninth on the all-time list with 11,174 runs) and Ricky Ponting (second with 13,378 runs), as well as the all-time leader Sachin Tendulkar (15,921 runs), in his sights.
Gillespie backed Root to adopt a more "proactive" style of on-field captaincy than Cook, a conservative leader by his own admission, but said having the 32-year-old opener still in the team would be beneficial.
"Joe will be a slightly different captain to Cooky," Gillespie explained. "He’ll look to be very proactive.
"But I think having ‘Cooky’ in his corner supporting him will give Joe some balance.
"He’ll feel good knowing he’s got Cooky there to lean on along with rest of his senior players.
"He’ll take time to grow into the role and some mistakes along the way.
"But I think he will be a fine captain for England."