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Cricket's future is officially in the hands of the next generation

11th February, 2017
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Stuart Broad doesn't mind a spot of village cricket. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Roar Guru
11th February, 2017
35

Alastair Cook mulled over the decision during Christmas and the weeks that followed, and eventually came to the logical conclusion.

The time to hand over the mantle of English cricket to Joe Root is here.

In typical English fashion, that, of course, would be too easy and obvious.

So Joe Root’s name has not officially been announced as his successor, but Root is probably not losing sleep over it, knowing he is the only viable candidate, and a very good one at that.

I shall not eulogise over Cook’s contribution to the game, as it has been discussed to death over the past years. Suffice to say that, he has been a great ambassador for the game, kept alive the art of playing spin on turning tracks, and made dour, technically sound batting fashionable again in this age of improvisation. And fortunately for us, he will continue to be around to enthral us with his batting prowess for some time to come.

But Cook hanging up his hat means that the major teams in cricket today are all led by the best batsmen in the world, who are all in their mid to late 20s.

Virat Kohli is etching his name firmly in the record books, with every series that goes by. He is also building up an enviable captaincy record for India while flag waving from the front with his uncompromising aggressiveness and rapidly maturing leadership that binds his team together.

Kohli has captained India in 22 Tests, and has a 63 per cent win record with 14 victories and two losses.

Steve Smith is in phenomenal form, and it seems like a bad day at the office when he doesn’t come out of the ground with a century against his name, pretty much regardless of the format of the game. He is also quietly establishing himself as a captain who is making winning a habit, and slowly but surely, rebuilding Australia into a formidable Test side.

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Smith has captained Australia in 20 Tests, and has a 55 per cent win record with 11 victories and five losses.

Kane Williamson is leading New Zealand in an era when it has the genuine potential to be a world beating team, as long as they play to their strengths. He is leading the way as the mainstay of the batting for the Kiwis, while enjoying the leadership responsibility.

Williamson has captained New Zealand in nine Tests, and has a 55 per cent win record with five victories and three losses.

And down at the southern tip of Africa, AB De Villiers has just handed over responsibility, after an incredibly short stint of two Tests, to Francois (Faf) du Plessis, perhaps the first person of French descent to captain a major cricket team.

He is a man who is a natural leader. Faf had a dream start by shattering the morale of the Australians at home, and forcing large scale changes in that side. And in doing that, du Plessis has probably done a huge service to the future of Australian cricket.

Finally with the Pakistan team ageing rapidly, and still led by 42-year old Misbah ul Haq, it can only be a matter of time that the mantle passes to Sarfraz Ahmed, who is already the captain in the shorter formats. At 29, Sarfraz will not be the youngest captain around, but just about make it to the 20s ‘Brigade of Captains’.

On average good captains do stay at the helm for a few years. So age clearly is on the side of these men. Their position as the best batsman in the side (in most cases) has actually been reinforced by some amazing upticks in their performances since they took over their leadership roles.

It is also abundantly clear, that these modern cricketers who are so adept in the limited overs format, have also mastered the longest format of the game.

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More importantly, each of them demonstrate a love and respect for the format that is heart-warming and bodes well for the future of the game.

It seems safe to say that the future of Test cricket is in safe hands, as the baton passes on to the next generation.