Joe Root is 'obvious candidate' for England captaincy says James Anderson

Joe Root
Joe Root scored 1,477 Test runs in 2016, including a career-best 254 against Pakistan in July

Joe Root is the "obvious candidate" to be named as England Test captain - but the role must not affect his batting, says pace bowler James Anderson.

Batsman Root is the favourite to take over from Alastair Cook, who stepped down on Monday after a record 59 Tests.

The Yorkshire player had been Test vice-captain to Cook since May 2015.

"Root is fairly quiet but he has got that fire in his belly. He's a really impressive young man," Anderson told The Tuffers and Vaughan Cricket Show.

Should he be named captain aged 26, Root would be a year younger than Cook was when he took on the Test role on a full-time basis in August 2012.

No batsman has scored more Test runs than Root's 4,594 since he made his debut on 13 December 2012, and only India captain Virat Kohli (8,536) has scored more runs than Root's 8,469 in all three forms of international cricket.

Anderson, England's leading Test wicket-taker, has played under five full-time Test captains since making his debut in May 2003.

The 34-year-old has served Nasser Hussain, Michael Vaughan, Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and Cook, as well as Andrew Flintoff who deputised for several Tests in 2006 and 2007.

"Root gets into situations, one-on-ones, with people. He speaks a lot of sense when he does speak and he's a really impressive young man," explained Anderson.

"He's the obvious candidate. The decision is a big one because he's our best player, so you obviously don't want that to be affected."

'Root likes a battle'

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Strauss coy on Root captaincy rumours

While they do not play another Test until July, England then play seven home Test matches - against South Africa and West Indies - in three months, before travelling to Australia in November for the Ashes.

Root scored 1,477 Test runs in 2016, making centuries against South Africa, Pakistan and India, as well as scoring 796 runs in one-day internationals and 297 in Twenty20 internationals.

"He loves cricket. It's very rare you see a player that's had the success he's had and he's not like that," Anderson said.

"In the brief period Alastair Cook's been off the field - for bathroom breaks - Root's been in there making changes. He's been good.

"It can be a difficult situation for a vice-captain when the captain goes off, you're in charge and myself and Stuart [Broad] might not make it that easy to go up and talk tactics. However he's done that and he's been good."

Are there any other candidates?

Root has led Yorkshire four times in the County Championship, taking charge when the county secured the 2014 County Championship title after then-captain Andrew Gale was suspended.

He was also the on-field captain when Middlesex, led by Australian batsman Chris Rogers, made a record 472-3 to beat Yorkshire by seven wickets in the same year.

All-rounder Ben Stokes, who was vice-captain on the recent limited-overs tour of Bangladesh which regular ODI skipper Eoin Morgan missed, was described as a "natural leader" by his Durham skipper Paul Collingwood.

"Ben has got a natural draw to him and he would be an excellent vice-captain for Root," former England limited-overs captain Collingwood said on the Tuffers and Vaughan show.

"The captain will have leaders underneath him that he knows he can go to - I think Ben Stokes would be the perfect man for that."

Fast bowler Stuart Broad has also been mooted - he captained the Twenty20 side between 2011 and 2014 - and Anderson said: "I wouldn't be against a fast bowler but one issue could be fitness.

"Bowlers get injured a lot more so are they going to play every game? The international schedule is hectic so it can be difficult."

Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler, who led the one-day side in Bangladesh in Morgan's absence and remains the official limited-overs vice-captain, has also been suggested as a possible candidate.

However, the Lancashire player's Test place is not guaranteed given current keeper Jonny Bairstow's good form - although Buttler played as a specialist batsman in the last three Tests of the recent India series.

'You don't need any captaincy experience'

Virat Kohli
India's Virat Kohli, the number two Test batsman, rose up the rankings after being appointed captain

Ex-England spinner Graeme Swann told BBC Radio 5 live he felt the pressure of potential Test captaincy was already affecting Root's batting.

"I think we should leave Joe Root to be the best batsman this country has ever produced, which he would be without the burden of being the captain," he said.

However, Kohli, along with Australia's Steve Smith and New Zealand's Kane Williamson, have each raised their games since becoming captains of their respective countries.

Smith and Kohli are the two top-ranked Test batsmen, while Williamson is one of 13 men to have scored a Test century against all of the other nine Test-playing nations.

"It's very English to assume the captaincy will affect him. The other three have got captaincy of their country and gone to a different level with it," said ex-England skipper Michael Vaughan, who came through the same Sheffield Collegiate club side and Yorkshire academy ranks which produced Root, and has been a long-term mentor to the young right-hander.

"I don't think there's an issue with him captaining, he's too good a player. I think he'd be a good one.

"To captain any team you have to be loving the game, love the difficult moments and prove people wrong. He is that kind of character."

'People follow natural leader Root'

Gary Ballance and Joe Root
Gary Ballance (left) and Joe Root lived together in their early Yorkshire playing days

England and Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance, who was named captain of the county in December 2016, said that his team-mate Root's inexperience was not an issue in him assuming the captaincy.

The pair lived together in 2011 during their early years in the Yorkshire first team and Ballance took Root's place when he was dropped for the final Test of England's Ashes whitewash in Australia in 2013-14.

"I think both of us have probably matured a bit more as cricketers and people. He's ready as a leader now in that England changing room," Ballance told BBC World Service's Stumped programme.

"I think Rooty's a natural born leader. He's done it from a young age. People follow him.

"He speaks well, he's got a great cricket brain. I don't think inexperience is too much of a problem. He'll be ready if he gets the opportunity."

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