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Ashes 2021/22

Brendon McCullum on Joe Root’s captaincy: ‘They talk about him as a very good leader… I haven’t really seen it’

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Brendon McCullum has questioned Joe Root’s leadership after England’s thrashing in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba last week.

England did not have the best start to the 2021/22 Ashes, going down to Australia by nine wickets in the first game at the Gabba. After scoring 147 in the first innings, the England team allowed the hosts to score 425, giving them a lead of 278 runs. Though England bounced back strongly and were well-placed at 223-2, they tumbled to 297 all out on the fourth day. Australia chased down the remaining 19 runs needed for a win in 5.1 overs, as England sunk to their seventh defeat in Test cricket this year.

Overall, England have played 13 Test matches in 2021 and won just four, which has put question marks over Joe Root’s leadership, with Brendon McCullum stating, “he allows games to drift”.


Speaking on SENZ Radio, the former New Zealand skipper said, “I think Joe Root is a wonderful guy and an outstanding cricketer. They talk about him as a very good leader… I haven’t really seen it. To me, leadership is not only about making the right call at the right time tactically as a skipper. He’s not, to me, the best in the world at it. I think he allows games to drift at times.”

McCullum added that despite reducing Australia to 236-6, England were not able to capitalize, allowing the last four wickets to score 189 runs.

“They had Australia on the ropes the other day, he allowed the game to drift. When you give Australia any chance to fight back they will.”

Though the wicketkeeper acknowledged Root’s efforts with the bat — the player has scored 1,544 runs in 2021, the most by any England player in a calendar year — he also stated that captaincy is not only about performances with the bat. “Leadership is not just about being the best player in the team. Leadership is about inspiring those around you to achieve higher success than they would otherwise achieve. The fact that no one else in that batting line-up has been able to progress and achieve under Joe Root’s captaincy to me is a cause of concern. Now there is such a stark contrast between the skipper, who is so far ahead of everyone else, it can actually create a negative effect on the rest of the guys.

“Sometimes not always the best players make the best leaders, and at the moment there is some sort of disconnect in the batting group.”

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