Root should be replaced as England captain by Stokes, suggests Atherton

Michael Atherton has called for Joe Root to be replaced as England captain after his side's Ashes humiliation, with Ben Stokes named as a "viable alternative".

Root is set to become England's longest-serving skipper in the fourth Test in Sydney when he becomes the first Englishman to captain 60 Tests.

His 27 victories in that time are the most by any England captain but he is yet to lead his side to an Ashes win, losing twice in Australia and drawing the 2019 series at home.

Root is keen to remain in the role after this series, but he has faced plenty of criticism over his captaincy.

The likes of Ian Chappell and Ricky Ponting have been scathing in their critique of Root's leadership, while Geoffrey Boycott has called for him to quit.

Now, Atherton has joined the calls for him to go, insisting the Ashes "could have been a much closer series had Root got things right on the field".

In a column for the Times, Atherton wrote: "Joe Root has [Tom] Harrison’s backing and the ECB will try to persuade Root to carry on after Sydney. They shouldn’t.

"Root has been a good England captain, and has always carried himself superbly and is an incredible ambassador for the sport, but having done the job for five years and having had three cracks at the Ashes, including two awful campaigns in Australia, it is time for someone else to have a go.

"There have been so many errors here, from selection to strategy, that the captain has to bear personal responsibility.

"For all the discussion around systemic change, this could have been a much closer series had Root got things right on the field.

"These errors have made a good Australian side look much better than they are.

"The options are limited, of course. But the lack of alternatives is the worst reason for keeping someone in a job.

"Ben Stokes is a viable alternative, having done an excellent job as a stand-in briefly in the summer.

"His bowling is starting to wind down, and, as he may not get into England’s best T20 side now, he can be given a breather during those matches."

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