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Joe Root excited at chance to take England to next level

By David Clough

Joe Root described himself as "privileged, humbled and very excited" after being confirmed as England's new Test captain.

Yorkshire batsman Root succeeds Alastair Cook, who resigned last week after his record 59-match tenure.

England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss confirmed he canvassed the opinion of several senior players - and interviewed Root too - before the 26-year-old was offered the job on Sunday.

The ECB then made the widely-anticipated announcement in a statement yesterday.

Root, who had been Cook's vice-captain since May last year, will have five months to prepare for his first Test in charge - against South Africa at Lord's on July 6.

He said: "It is a huge honour to be given the England Test captaincy. I feel privileged, humbled and very excited."

All-rounder Ben Stokes will be Root's vice-captain as England seek to establish a new leadership era, not just against South Africa and West Indies in the forthcoming summer, but to face Australia in next winter's Ashes.

Record Test run scorer Cook is expected to remain at top of the order for the foreseeable future.

Root, who has averaged almost 53 in his 53 Tests to date, will therefore have no shortage of advisers to turn to on and off the pitch, including experienced pace pair James Anderson and Stuart Broad, and coaches Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace.

He added: "We have a very good group of players, and I'm looking forward to leading them out in the summer, building on Alastair's achievements and making the most of our talents in the years ahead.

"The senior guys in the changing room play a very influential role, and while there's a natural progression for me, it's a huge support to know that they are there to help and advise.''

ECB chairman Colin Graves approved Strauss and the selectors' recommendation.

A fellow Yorkshireman, Graves said: "I think Joe Root is the perfect choice for England Test captain.

"I'm delighted he has accepted the role and will now help to take the team to the next level.

"When I spoke to him last night you could feel the excitement and sense the pride - he can't wait to get started."

Root's appointment comes at a time when England must restate their Test credentials having been within one win of going top of the rankings last summer only to then lose a match for the first time in their history to Bangladesh before going down 4-0 to all-conquering India before Christmas.

Graves added: "Joe has maturity beyond his years and, having seen him develop at Yorkshire, I know his qualities well.

"The role of Test captain is an honour and a responsibility he thoroughly deserves.''

Strauss, Cook's predecessor as captain until 2012, also had high praise for Root as he takes over the role.

"Joe is the right man to be our next Test captain and I'm thrilled he has accepted the role," he said.

"He is universally respected by his team-mates, passionate about driving the Test team forward and extremely excited about leading his country."

Strauss believes Root and Stokes will form a winning partnership. "I'm also delighted Ben Stokes will take over from Joe as vice-captain of the team," he added.

"He has real presence and influence that serve as a great source of support for Joe.

"I have no doubts that the responsibility will also help Ben to continue his rapid rise as a world-class all-rounder."

England, meanwhile, must manage Root's workload as a key player not just in Tests but - with a home Champions Trophy campaign preceding this summer's Test series - both the white-ball formats too.

Root became a father for the first time last month and flew out only days after the birth of his son Alfred to join England on the new-year tour of India.

He travels again next week for the ODI series in the West Indies, but before then holds his first press conference as captain at Headingley tomorrow.

Belfast Telegraph

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