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Root backs ‘brilliant’ Cook to continue as captain

MUMBAI: Joe Root expects Alastair Cook to continue to lead England for “a few years to come” amid rising speculation on the future of the 31-year-old as Test captain.

The left-handed opening batsman triggered doubts about his captaincy when he told the Cricketer magazine that he did not know “how much longer I am going to carry on. It could be two months, it could be a year”.

He was forced to clarify his comments on the eve of the opening test of the five-match series against India at Rajkot and said he was doing the job on a series-by-series basis.

But with England trailing 2-0 after three Tests, Cook’s future has come under renewed speculation.

After drawing the first Test, England suffered heavy defeats in the next two matches and must win their next contest in Mumbai to have any chance of saving the series.

The 25-year-old Root is England’s best batsman, vice-captain and seen as a natural successor to Cook, who had to leave his newborn daughter and family behind in October for a Test series in Bangladesh.

Root said he had seen no indication from his captain to suggest he was contemplating giving up the job and said the team’s batsmen had let their skipper down.

“I think he is coping all right,” Root said of Cook.

“He’s very professional and you don’t really get much from him in that respect. I imagine it must be quite tough being away from a new child and family and everything.

“You could put a lot of blame on Cooky but actually it is the responsibility of the batters to make those big scores. You can blame whoever you want, but we have to take responsibility for our own game.”

After becoming a father for a second time last month, the 31-year-old Cook admitted that he found the long England tours a wrench, while insisting he remained deeply proud of captaining his country.

The left-handed opener, who recently overtook Michael Atherton’s record of 54 Tests as England captain, no longer plays limited-overs cricket but has been a permanent fixture in the Test side for the last decade.

Cook replaced Andrew Strauss as skipper in 2012 and has led England to 24 victories, including a 2-1 series win over India the last time they toured the South Asian country in 2012.

Despite his team’s stumbles in India, Cook’s own form has held up and he scored his 30th Test century in the opening match.

“I think he is pretty set on captaining for a few years to come and I hope he does because I think he is a brilliant leader and I’ve really enjoyed playing under him,” Root, who is himself averaging nearly 50 in India, said.

“I’m quite happy with the role I’m playing at the moment and you want to do what is right for England and the side.

“And genuinely, honestly, I think he is the right man. Hopefully, we get these results we want in the last two games and we can put right what has been quite a frustrating last couple of weeks.”

Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium will host the penultimate Test of the series from Thursday, while the final Test will be played in Chennai from December 16.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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