Cook Reminder for Joe Root

In perhaps one of the most ubiquitous cases that cricketers can never take their place for granted, even as India pulled a huge surprise by dropping Kuldeep Yadav for the final Twenty20 international, England did the unthinkable – drop their Test captain in an eerie reminder of Alastair Cook’s similar debacle before the ICC Cricket World Cup.

As much as Joe Root being dropped from the playing eleven in the third and deciding Twenty20 international against India reminded one of Alastair Cook being dropped altogether barely two months before the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015 despite Cook also being the captain of the England cricket team at the time, if one were to dig deeper, it would appear that England do have some curiously ambiguous decision making happening behind closed doors.

Paul Farbrace may not have perhaps imagined he would be in the eyes of public scrutiny, and perhaps not so early into India’s tour of England. However, given how the interim coach, stepping in for the absent Trevor Bayliss, has swerved from his own position within ten days from stating that he thought the present England captain was a surefire pick even if the troubled all-rounder, Ben Stokes, came back into contention to then promptly dropping Root for Stokes in the said third Twenty20 international which India did win to take the series, it appears England have much more thinking to do and the middle of a series against India may not be the best time to do it.

There is no denying that Farbrace has aspirations to become England’s new head coach although there is still fair time on Bayliss’ clock in that role. However, given that the interim coach did state on record that he thought Root was integral to England’s resurgence in two years in the shortest format of the sport only to then leave out Root to bring in the blistering striker and all rounder, it is highly likely that England’s team director, Andrew Strauss, will be taking cognizance of this. After all, this was the coach speaking publicly to one tune while Eoin Morgan, England’s Twenty20 captain, made the final decision to drop a disappointed Root who has wrestled to claim a spot in England’s limited overs squad despite making improvements and adaptations to his own game.

It was yet another brutal reminder to the Test captain that unless he developed a steelier armour, he could be in for more shocking decisions such as the one meted out to Cook even as Cook suffered greatly, being tested in the public eye even before the world cup. The only reason that decision affected England’s image greatly was because there was the general perception that England had left such an important decision too late and so close to the World Cup.

While Root has had few opportunities to make a more favourable case for himself – now being rested before this with his assuming the Test captaincy, Root is seeking both, time in the middle and validation to make his case. But the latest decision only makes clear how difficult it is going to be not only for Root but for players like him who have struggled and wrestled to break the shackles of conservative notions about prolific Test batsmen not being the best candidates for the limited overs format.

In contrast, India, it would appear, have had a slightly lesser headache with their decision to leave out the five-wicket man from the first match, Kuldeep Yadav, presumably straight forward with the intent to expose as many players as possible in the early part of the tour even though even that drew its fair share of critics.


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