Former England cricketer Michael Atherton stated that he was not surprised by Joe Root's decision to step down as Test captain. The 31-year-old was the nation's most successful captain in the format with 27 wins, surpassing the likes of Nasser Hussain and Sir Alastair Cook.
Believing that Root realized he could no longer handle the responsibility anymore, Atherton said on Sky Sports:
"I'm not surprised really. It had gone to the stage at the end of The Ashes, even before the West Indies tour where it was clear that a change was needed to be made. There comes a moment in every England captain's life where you just realize you've given it your all and can't do it anymore."
"There was a particular moment in the Grenada Test match especially when Ben Foakes was run out and the team was sliding to defeat and the camera just panned in on Root on the England balcony, he sat there with his head in his hands looking quite distraught."
England conducted a thorough revamp of their coaching staff following the 4-0 drubbing against Australia. Head coach Chris Silverwood, batting coach Graham Thorpe and managing director Ashley Giles were all sacked. Another huge statement was made in the form of the omissions of James Anderson and Stuart Broad from the West Indies tour.
Despite the changes, the Three Lions fell to a 1-0 defeat in the three-match Test series in the Caribbean.
Opining that Joe Root should have stepped down after the Ashes debacle, Atherton said:
"He should have stepped down after the Ashes given how that tour had gone. They tried to make some changes, getting rid of Chris Silverwood, managing director and leaving some of the senior players out, but it was pretty evident to everybody that Root had come to the end of the road. "
The former England captain added:
"He did it for five years and that is a long time, and especially a long time if things are not going especially well. Eventually, it catches up with you and it takes its toll. He was somebody who absolutely gave it his all. In the end, he kind of had it."
Root will continue to feature as a batter for the Test side in the middle order.
"Ben Stokes is the obvious candidate" - Michael Atherton on who could become the next England Test captain
Root's resignation leaves the ECB with the task of finding a new captain to lead the team forward. Ben Stokes has emerged as the leading candidate due to his current post as the vice-captain of the side.
The all-rounder even drew praise from pundits for his captaincy when he led England in the second Test when Root was off the field.
Admitting that there are not many candidates to take over as England Test captain, Atherton said:
"Well, there are not many. You have got to pick somebody who is worth his place in the side. So, Ben Stokes is the obvious candidate. I think what helps is that Joe Root stepped down of his own accord."
"The one great defining characteristic of Ben Stokes is his loyalty, he was very loyal to Root as his number two. He will feel a lot easier about accepting the job if indeed it comes his way."
The new captain will lead the side in a grueling home season which includes assignments against India, New Zealand and South Africa.