Bacon’s Bites: Is Root the root cause of England woes? And is Hursty your man at Town?
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Mike Bacon takes his usual weekly look at the world of sport, including England cricket, Ipswich Town and Ipswich Witches
Joe Root is the 80th English Test captain.
It’s not been an especially auspicious start for the 27-year-old Yorkshireman.
Before this weekend’s second Test with Pakistan, Root’s record as captain read won five, lost eight, drew two of the 15 Test matches he had been in charge.
Before I go much further, let me just say, Root is a class player. Not in doubt.
He still averages over 50 in Test matches and you are not placed in the ICC Test Team of the Year for three consecutive years, 2014, 2015 and 2016, if you are not seriously good.
However, good players don’t always make the best captains, and that’s not just a cricket thing.
England currently haven’t won a Test in the last eight attempts – all with Root at the helm.
His Test batting average has dipped since he took charge on the pitch.
Root is not suddenly a bad player overnight, but you can’t tell me being the captain, especially in cricket, where you are involved so much when your team is fielding – and that can last for days – doesn’t have the ability to impact on your batting or bowling should things go wrong.
Certainly Root comes over as a very pleasant bloke.
But I’m never convinced he has the full respect of everyone around him when I watch him and his colleagues decide whether to review a decision.
Indeed, he seems often to look more for help from senior players within the team, rather than boldly go for what he believes.
History tells us, especially in English cricket, that the best players far from make the best captains.
Andrew Flintoff only won two of 11 Tests when he was at his pomp in 2005-07, while David Gower, one of the classiest batsman of his generation, didn’t lose form, but just five wins in 32 Tests as skipper was little to shout about.
Geoffrey Boycott only skippered his country four times, winning just once, while one of the best cricketers England has ever produced, Ian Botham, had an horrendous record as captain – no wins in 12 attempts.
Being a skipper in cricket is much more about tactics, on-field decisions, rotation of bowlers, field placings, etc.
Invariably a football captain calls heads or tails and then shouts a lot for 90 minutes!
So, should this weekend’s Test match not go the way of England, I suggest the selectors take Root out of the firing line.
England desperately need him back banging in big scores, not being criticised by the media every two minutes for captaining an unsuccessful team.
OK, so it’s a young side, but there is enough experience in there.
I would have liked to have seen James Anderson take over from Alastair Cook, rather than Root. Even just for a couple of years. Allow Root to continue to grow into one of the world’s best batsmen, then take over as captain.
Mike Brearley was the one of the very best England captains with a high win ratio of 18 out of 31 Test victories. He was far from the best player in the side however, averaging just 22 in Test matches.
But his management skills drew the best from the players, although he was fortunate to be able to call on the services of top players like Bob Willis, Gower and Botham at their peak – in fairness Root and England lack that type of firepower today.
So, what do you think of Paul Hurst as the new boss of Ipswich Town?
I think is set to be an interesting ride and certainly as Marcus Evans suggested in his video interview, the club have indeed gone down a different route than recent, more well-known, incumbents.
Hurst’s record in the lower leagues is good, he’s young and ticks plenty of boxes. It’s a great move for him, while history shows Town have invariably done well when giving up-and-coming managers a chance.
Super Blues fans are also good at giving managers time.
Hurst is just the Club’s 16th in Town’s 82-year professional era.
But quite frankly, all Ipswich Town fans really want is a sense of community once more, to feel part of their club, not sitting on the sidelines being talked about and at – and of course a team that plays exciting football.
Over to you Paul.
I’m sorry to moan about speedway, but I’m going to.
Ipswich Witches last home meeting was on May 3! Ok, so there was the British U19 final a couple of weeks ago, but that’s not the Witches.
Next week’s meeting with Sheffield (June 7) will the first team clash in five weeks. Then, incredibly, there is no home meeting at Foxhall the week after.
Not good if you ask me.
Then again I suppose it depends whether your cup is half full (‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’), or half empty (‘Out of sight, out of mind!’)