MARTYN MOXON is backing Joe Root to come through the toughest test of his career.
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The Yorkshire director of cricket believes that England’s Ashes defeat will ultimately make Root a better captain and player.
Speaking ahead of the fourth Test that starts in Melbourne on Boxing Day, Moxon delivered his support to a man who came up through the ranks at Emerald Headingley.
“It’s clearly very tough for Joe at the moment, but I think he’ll be fine,” said Moxon.
“It’ll be a great learning experience for him and I just hope that he doesn’t take any criticism too personally because history tells us that we don’t win very often in Australia; he’s not the first English captain to lose in Australia and it’s not all down to Joe Root.
“He will learn from this experience and I think be a better player and a better captain as a result of it once he’s had time to reflect and the dust has settled on it all.
“He’s that type of character and a real fighter.”
Root, leading his first Ashes tour, has struggled for runs (176 at 29.33) and been weighed down by off-field issues such as the non-availability of vice-captain Ben Stokes and bar-room incidents involving Jonny Bairstow, and Ben Duckett and James Anderson.
Stokes was left out pending investigations into a street fight in Bristol, while Bairstow was implicated in a seemingly innocuous headbutting incident involving Australia batsman Cameron Bancroft and Duckett suspended after pouring a drink over Anderson in the same Perth bar.
He will learn from this experience and I think be a better player and a better captain as a result of it once he’s had time to reflect and the dust has settled on it all.Martyn Moxon on Joe Root
“Joe’s had some starts, but not quite been able to convert them, and I don’t know how much the results and various off-field things have affected him,” said Moxon.
“He’s had a lot of stuff to contend with. That’s the unknown really of how sapping and frustrating all that has been for him. As a captain, you can only do so much.
“You rely on your team to do their bit as well and individuals to do their jobs, and, when they don’t, it puts more pressure on you as captain because you’re ultimately responsible and you feel responsible.”
As England look to avoid a whitewash in the last two Tests, having gone 3-0 down in Perth last week, Moxon believes that a key difference between the teams has been runs on the board.
Whereas England’s two acknowledged world-class batsmen in Root and Alastair Cook have struggled, with the latter having managed only 83 runs in six innings at 13.83, Australia’s two in captain Steve Smith (426 runs at 142.00) and David Warner (196 runs at 49.00) have caused more damage, although Warner has managed only one significant score.
“My point going into the series was that it was going to be the battle of the batters in many respects,” added Moxon.
“Australia had Warner and Smith as kind of bankers and we had Cook and Root as our bankers, and it depended then on how the others performed around them.
“Obviously, Alastair’s had a very tough time and we’ve always been one-down early, and Joe’s not been able to go on and capitalise on the starts that he’s had.
“The fact that others have contributed such as Mark Stoneman is a positive, but although we’ve had starts, we haven’t had enough big hundreds, which is what you need to win games.
“Again, as far as Joe is concerned, it’s difficult because you do feel the weight of the world on your shoulders as captain.
“You think, ‘What can I do? How am I going to change this?’ And, as much as you try and not let it affect you, it’s bound to.”