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Pressure intensifies on England captain Joe Root after series loss to the West Indies 

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The West Indies have recorded a comprehensive 10-wicket victory over England in the third and final Test in Grenada as calls for captain Joe Root to stand down grow louder.

England’s poor record of Test series losses in the Caribbean has been extended and they have won just one series – in 2004 under Michael Vaughan – in the 54 years since Colin Cowdrey’s team won 1-0 in five Tests against a West Indies team led by Gary Sobers in 1968.

As expected, the pressure has fallen on England captain Joe Root who was looking for his team to rebound following a humiliating 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia.

Under Joe Root as captain, England have won just one of their past 17 Tests and for the first time in their history, England have lost five straight series (of series with two or more Tests).

The 31-year-old has a winning percentage of 42.19 from 64 Tests in charge. His winning record is lower than Michael Vaughan (50.98) and Andrew Strauss (46), but higher than Alastair Cook (40.68), Nasser Hussain (37.78), Mike Atherton (24.07) and Graham Gooch (29.41).

Speaking to BT Sport after the loss to the West Indies, Root said he had not been reconsidering his position and suggested the squad had made ‘big improvements’ and played some ‘brilliant cricket’ during the series.

“I think I’ve made it quite clear at the start of this game and throughout this tour, I’m very passionate about trying to take this team forward,” the England captain said.

“I don’t think it’s ever in your hands completely, but as I said, I feel like the group are very much behind me. We’re doing a lot of really good things. We just need to turn that into results.”

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While Joe Root remained defiant, several former England captains suggested that the captaincy decision should no longer be his to make.

“Root’s captaincy is untenable, and he must surely know it deep down,” Mike Atherton wrote in his column for The Times.

“His team have gone five series without victory and have won only one Test in the past 17, a shocking run for a side so well resourced.”

“As was obvious to anyone who was in Australia, and should have been obvious to anyone who wasn’t, Root has reached the end of the road as captain. A change will not cure all ills – this is a poor team and England are paying the price for the neglect of the first-class game – but there simply comes a time when a captain has nothing new to say, no new methods of motivating his players and a different voice or different style is required.”

Nasser Hussain, writing in the Daily Mail, said that the decision to drop James Anderson and Stuart Broad from the squad had been ‘a cop out’ and that Root – along with the interim selection panel of Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood and James Taylor – had selected a team of ‘yes men’.

“Root is a world-class batsman and a very likeable lad but I feel he has never had that instinctive feel for the game as captain,” Hussain wrote. 

“Clearly, under Joe and Paul Collingwood in the West Indies, England tried to create this atmosphere where they were all mates and all in it together. They want to be a likeable team but you need more than that to win Tests.”

Michael Vaughan, who led England to an Ashes victory in 2005, believes Root’s captaincy ‘has not been good enough’ and that ‘tactically, he consistently misses a trick’.

“It happened in Grenada, it happened endlessly in Australia and many times last summer,” Vaughan wrote in The Telegraph

“It has been a consistent trend that when England have been put under pressure on Joe’s watch they have not been able to cope. When they have to win an hour they lose it.”

All three former England greats agreed that there was no obvious choice to replace Root as captain, however Hussain believes Ben Stokes ‘should get the job’.

Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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