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Veteran England pace bowler James Anderson has backed Joe Root to rise to the occasion if Alastair Cook steps down as Test captain.
There has been a lot of speculation about Cook’s future as skipper, especially after he told The Cricketer Magazine: “Deep down I don’t know how much longer I am going to carry on. It could be two months, it could be a year.”
While those comments came prior to England’s recent tour of India, the rumours continued to mount throughout the five-Test series as Cook said that Root was “ready” to captain England in the longest format.
Furthermore, after England lost the series 4-0, Cook admitted that he had a lot of thinking to do as whether he wanted to continue leading his country in Test cricket.
Cook has led England in a record 59 Tests to date, but Anderson conceded that the 32-year-old has lacked the leadership qualities he oozed in recent years.
“I think he’s done well, there’s a lot of things that probably weren’t natural to start with,” Anderson told ESPNcricinfo. “Tactically he’s learnt a lot, improved a lot. Speaking to the group he wasn’t great but he’s improved so much over the last couple of years. I think he’s done fantastically well.”
While England couldn’t get the job done in India last year, Anderson pointed out that one of Cook’s greatest moments as captain would be the side’s 2-1 win over the subcontinent nation in 2012, where they bounced back after losing the first Test in Ahmedabad by nine wickets.
“The win in India is probably right up there,” Anderson said. “And I think the feeling in the group at the moment, with quite a young squad, and just trying to get guys to go out there and express themselves.
“I think Cooky’s been a big driver in trying to help people relax and play their natural game.”
As for Root, Anderson believes that the 26-year-old, who became a father recently, has all the qualities needed to make a great Test captain.
“Joe’s already quite a mature guy. He might look young but he’s pretty mature compared to some,” Anderson said. “Obviously, fatherhood gives him a bit more responsibility and something else to think about away from the game. I think he’ll cope with it brilliantly.
“He’s [Root] a very good batsman, he’s our best player by a long way and he’s been brilliant the last few years.
“He’s gone from strength to strength and he’s made himself into one of the best players in the world, so to have someone like that in your team is incredible really. That’s going to be a massive part of our success in the future.”