Darren Gough ‘surprised’ by criticism Joe Root faced towards end of captaincy

Darren Gough 'surprised' by criticism Joe Root faced towards end of captaincy

Darren Gough was “surprised” by the level of criticism Joe Root faced in his final months as England’s Test captain and “can’t wait” to have him available to play for Yorkshire in the coming weeks.

Gough, who became Yorkshire’s director of cricket in December after Martyn Moxon was sacked, was speaking during the club’s first County Championship fixture this season against Gloucestershire in Bristol. He expects Root to play “two or three” games before England’s first Test of the summer against New Zealand and said he had kept in touch with him throughout the winter.

“Realistically, with a bit of luck, I’d like to think we’d get him for two or three games before the Test series starts,” Gough said. “Whatever we get Joe Root for is a bonus. He loves playing for Yorkshire.

“He’s been on messages and wished everybody luck before this game. That’s the sort of character he is. To get a player of his experience and brilliance – I can’t wait to have him back.

“I’m sure he just wants to get back playing now that he’s got this [his resignation] out of the way. It might have been on his mind for the last month or so since he came back.”

Gough said that while Root had “probably done the right thing” in stepping down, he was surprised to see the news break on Friday morning and insisted that he had done “a good job” throughout his five years in the role.

“He’s come home, thought about the pluses and negatives and thought, ‘yep, it’s time to go now’. He’s probably thought that now’s the right time to step away, but I was surprised when I was over breakfast this morning and it popped up on the screen.

“The problem is that one win in 17 is the one that goes against him, 27 Test victories, though. When you think about it, would you say he’s always had the best players available to him in that last 17 Test matches? I would say not.

“I think Joe – and I’ve been in that dressing room environment in New Zealand – is hugely respected by every single player and coaching staff. And he was the perfect man for the job.”

Gough added that Root had fallen victim to English cricket’s blame game, and that he had been “a strong personality” and “a strong leader” who had been hampered by the absence of key players.

“He’s had a lot of criticism,” Gough said. “I think what probably hurt him [is that] it’s come from a lot of guys who played the game and captained England as well – some of his closest mates.

“I was surprised by the criticism; I think you have to look deeper than that. With everything that has been going on in English cricket, I don’t think you can blame the captain. Unfortunately, we’re always looking for someone to blame.

“When you look back in the history of captains, what do we always say? ‘Well, he was a good captain because he won the Ashes or he wasn’t because he didn’t win the Ashes’. But the greatest captain I ever played under was Nasser Hussain, and he didn’t win the Ashes. You have to have the players, and you’re only as good as your players.”

Asked if there was a better candidate available than Root, Gough said: “Not at the minute, I don’t think so. Obviously Ben Stokes is a terrific personality, and I would say he’s one of those natural leaders on the field. But unfortunately, he’s had this time out of the game, he’s got these injuries and his workload’s already through the roof. It’s a big decision if he takes it.

“And some of the better candidates are not in the England team at this moment in time. They got dropped after the winter. It will be a very difficult choice with who they go for. The natural choice is Stokes – you go with the best player, don’t you? He’s the only one who is secure of a place, so there’s nowhere else to go.”

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