NASSER HUSSAIN: All Joe Root Should Focus On Is Winning

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NASSER HUSSAIN: All Joe Root should be focusing on is winning… I don’t expect the England captain to carry the problems of the past few days into the second test with New Zealand

  • Joe Root and England have a chance to win the test series against New Zealand
  • Root has a tough balance sheet decision on his part at Edgbaston
  • It’s up to Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence to get runs again

I have no doubt that the English cricketers will be able to focus on the matter at Edgbaston: winning a Test series against New Zealand.

Yes, they’ve been through a lot since the Ollie Robinson tweets came out. But these guys are professionals and there is too much at stake from a cricket point of view to be distracted. There are places to play for and five Test series against India and Australia on the horizon.

I don’t expect for a minute that Joe Root will bring the problems of the past few days into play.

I don’t expect Joe Root to take the problems of the past few days into the second test against New Zealand in Edgbaston

I know from experience that things off the field can be a burden when you are captain. My team spent a lot of the 2003 World Cup asking if we should play against Zimbabwe because of the human rights violations there.

But I was nearing the end of my time in the track and I was running out of fuel.

Root is not at that stage as a leader. He’s only 30, it’s the start of summer and England are about to play one of their favorite stages in front of 17,000 fans. Jimmy Anderson becomes England’s best-occupied player.

Above all, the captain will be enthusiastic.

One of the keys as a leader is to have a clear mind about the cricket decisions you have to make.

Root knows he will have to make a tough decision about the side's balance balans

Root knows he will have to make a tough decision about the side’s balance balans

Root’s focus will be very much on what kind of team he wants against a New Zealand side that is missing their skipper Kane Williamson and who may have an eye on next week’s World Test Championship final against India.

Root knows he will have to make a tough decision about the side’s balance. Without an all-rounder – be it Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran or even Moeen Ali – he leaves a box open. It’s a matter of choosing the least bad option.

It is difficult. I wouldn’t play Dom Bess simply because he’s a better batsman than Jack Leach. If you pick a frontline spinner – and I would, in this weather – pick Leach and let Root cast the breaks.

Or they could play Craig Overton as a similar replacement for Robinson, in which case it’s hard to bring in Leach unless you leave out one of the fast men – Mark Wood and Olly Stone – who are both adept at finding reverse- swing, another feature of exhibition games in Edgbaston.

Or do you just play all four quicks, including Anderson and Stuart Broad, and risk hitting Stone at number 8 with his first-class average of 15? I remember my England team being panned for picking four No 11s against New Zealand in the Oval in 1999. You have to be careful.

A frontline spinner is a tempting choice in this weather and Jack Leach is a contender

A frontline spinner is a tempting choice in this weather and Jack Leach is a contender

But it will be nice to talk about the cricket again. Will Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence score runs to make Chris Silverwood’s life difficult when Stokes and Buttler are available again? Will England have thought about how to bowl to Devon Conway after making his debut for the double hundred? Will Dom Sibley be allowed to continue carving out the scores for which he was chosen?

There are plenty of people around Root to deal with all the off-field stuff and rightly so – it’s serious business.

I have every confidence that he has his eye on the ball. All he needs to focus on is winning ahead of a massive run against India.

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