After a tumultuous tenure, Joe Root has announced his resignation from his post as England’s Test match captain. Having led his country more times and recorded more wins than any other player, the Yorkshireman certainly had plenty of highs and plenty of lows, but it became increasingly clear that he didn’t quite have the answers to England’s issues in the longest form of the game. With the task of the Three Lions still looking a daunting one, SinkorSwimSports takes you through who is leading the next England captain odds, and who we think might be the best bet to back.
Arguably the most talented player England have possessed since the days of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, Ben Stokes has consistently been linked with the captaincy of the Test team. The 30-year-old has played in 79 Test matches, making him one of the most experienced players in the dressing room, and served as Joe Root’s vice-captain when he was given the captaincy in February 2017.
Stokes has since gotten a couple of tastes of captaining the Three Lions, leading the Test team for the 1st Test match against the West Indies in 2020, and then again during Pakistan’s ODI series against England in 2021.
However, there are a couple of red flags that we think make Stokes a potentially risky option. For starters, the examples of both Flintoff and Pietersen should serve as reminders of what happens when a side’s star players are given the captaincy, as well as the fact that Stokes is still reasonably fresh off of a break from the game last year.
Had it not been for the incredible longevity of James Anderson, Stuart Broad might well have found himself in the conversation as one of England’s greatest ever seam bowlers more often over the past decade. With 152 Test appearances behind him, Broad is the third-most capped player for the country since making his debut back in 2007.
He’s also only the fourth fast bowler in the history of the game to take over 500 wickets, currently sitting at 537 at an average of 27.80, including 19 five and 3 ten wicket-hauls in a match. A four-time Ashes winner and one of the few players to have played in an England team ranked number one in the world in the Test standings, it’s clear quality and experience aren’t an issue with Broad.
Since the 2020 summer, however, the ECB seems to have a bone to pick with Stuart Broad. He was publicly dropped for the 1st Match against the West Indies in the summer of 2020, rotated in and out across the 2021/22 Ashes down under, and omitted from selection alongside James Anderson ahead of the recent tour of the West Indies. Broad has been incredibly vocal about his treatment from the ECB and has consistently fired back with a series of fine performances after being dropped, which is undoubtedly the sort of show of character this current crop of England players need.
Another character who has shown the grit and resolve this England side is in desperate need of is batsman Jonny Bairstow. Also like Broad, he’s another character that has struggled to really be trusted in a set role or position in the Test team by the ECB, being routinely drafted in and out, moved up and down the batting order, and even having shared wicket-keeping duties with the likes of Jos Buttler and Ben Foakes.
However, the Yorkshire batsman’s recent centuries against Australia in Sydney and the West Indies in Antigua have both arguably been the best examples of the sorts of performances England’s Test team badly need more of.
Giving Bairstow the captaincy could be the show of trust both the team and the player needs. Having been in the side since 2012, Bairstow is certainly experienced enough for the role and, unlike someone like Stokes, could elevate his performance rather than drag it down.
Jos Buttler is arguably the world’s most destructive white-ball batsman and has served as vice-captain across all three formats since 2018. His form with the Rajasthan Royals in the 2022 IPL has also been one of the few instances of an English player playing with any sort of confidence so far this year.
Buttler’s credentials against the red ball in the Test format have always been a controversial talking point with England fans, however. Buttler only averages 31.94 in Test matches and has far too often been a contributor to the sort of batting collapses that have undoubtedly been the biggest problem with England’s sides over the years. Buttler’s wicket-keeping has also come into question at times against the moving ball, with specialists like Foakes often proclaimed as a better option.
It often feels like it’s more of a crisis of confidence for Buttler when he plays in the longest form of the game, however being given the captaincy might be the thing the Lancashire man needs to really feel like himself again in the longest form.
Here at SinkorSwimSports, we’re big fans of Dan Lawrence. A silky smooth and stylish middle-order batsman, he’s never going to be given the captaincy armband, but it could be fun to speculate about the possibility of him leading the Three Lions.
Over the past year or so, Lawrence has been in and out of the Test team but has chained together with a handful of performances that the ECB will have loved. His 81* against New Zealand at Edgbaston was a particular highlight, and Lawrence looked incredibly fluid during the tour against the West Indies earlier this year, coming agonisingly close to a maiden century during the 2nd Test.
Still only 24 years old, Lawrence has shown enough in his eleven Test matches to date that he’s a more dependable option in the middle order than the likes of Ollie Pope. Whether it is at number three or four in the batting lineup, this new era of Test cricket could be the opportunity the Essex batsman needs to move up the next England captain odds.
Red Bulls, James Anderson and Christian Pulisic enthusiast. Still unsure how Wes Brown wrangled himself a Champions League medal – Premier League, Cricket and Major League Soccer contributor at SinkorSwimSports.