Root’s batting is not an issue but his tactical choices are
Captain made a number of mistakes in Manchester, although it is a positive that he is still getting results
Joe Root is taking a bit of stick and criticism as captain, mainly because he is not scoring as many runs as he did before he took the job.
He has captained in 42 Tests now. He has won 23. He is on a run of six victories. We need to remember that. Also, for his first 33 Tests as captain, England were preoccupied with winning the World Cup.
It is only since Chris Silverwood was appointed head coach that English cricket has become more geared towards the Test team. This will be Joe’s 10th Test as captain working with a head coach and a specific plan for Test cricket. They realised the Test team were not playing in the right way or style. That has changed since last summer and we have seen better results because of it.
I worry less about his batting than his tactical decisions. He has never looked completely out of sync with the bat. He rarely has a week when he scores five and nought.
People say he has not made big scores because of the captaincy, but Joe has never really made big scores consistently. He has always made fifties or seventies without going on, so I do not buy the theory that captaincy has affected his powers of concentration because I do not think he has ever had great powers of concentration.
But one area he can improve is his tactical decision-making. After 42 matches, he has to be a bit cleverer, smarter and read game situations better. At Old Trafford, he got away with a lot. But one wonderful match-winning partnership should not stop you as a leader admitting you made mistakes.
Captaincy is similar to being a player; you have to analyse your performance with coaches. Joe has to think back to what happened at Old Trafford. Bowling two spinners up to the second new ball to Shan Masood and Shadab Khan completely changed the momentum of the game.
On the first afternoon of the match, rain was forecast and England switched off. But in the second innings, when Joe knew he had to bowl Pakistan out cheaply, he was on it. He realised England had to win every session. He is always much better in those situations.
England bowled dots and built pressure. He just had to rely on highly skilled bowling and set sensible fields.
The one thing I would remind him of is the adage that you start the morning with your best two bowlers from the previous day. On that fourth morning, when Pakistan were still batting, he went for a Jofra Archer burst and he was hit to all parts. Against a better team, that could lose you a Test.
But it is a massive positive that Joe keeps winning despite his mistakes because the result is everything at this level. His team show a huge amount of character. Sometimes we want the perfect performance where you hammer sides, but to beat a talented Pakistan team on a pitch that suited them more than England showed a lot of mental strength.
The most important question to ask is: are players willing and wanting to play for him? Absolutely. Do you ever hear a player or coach who has been in the system coming out of it and criticising Joe? No.
He knows he is not the perfect captain. He is not one who thinks he does everything right. We want perfection. We want someone who can average 50, not make any tactical errors and win. But that will never happen.
He does have to sit down with Archer and understand him. But Jofra also needs to understand what the team want from him. Who is he? I think we know his character. We can see that on social media. But what kind of bowler is he for this England Test team?
I think for England to win in Australia they will need a pace bowler consistently bowling fast on their pitches. Can Joe convince Jofra to buy into bowling quickly for longer periods? If that means he misses the odd Test to rest, then I would take that.
England want him in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and, possibly, Melbourne, depending on the pitch. Can England get him bowling quickly consistently to make him a threat? That is down to the captain. He has to put his arm around him and explain why. We have four seamers, he is the point of difference and that is why he is in the team.
If he cannot deliver that, then manage him to be the best cricketer he can be for the team. If Jofra is not the guy who bowls 90mph regularly then look elsewhere because England need pace. We do not want to hear Archer saying things like Old Trafford was not a bowl-quick pitch. You can bowl quick on every pitch.
Most importantly, England are going in the right direction to achieve something very special. They have a lot of character, and strength in depth to try to compete against Australia.
Will they win in Australia? Not so sure. Will they lose 4-0 or 5-0? No, I don’t think so. This is not an England team who should be hammered.
After 42 matches he has to be a bit cleverer, smarter and read game situations better
Leader: Joe Root has an impressive recent record as captain, but must address his mistakes