England v South Africa, first Test: Joe Root itching to finally begin captaincy

Frank Dalleres
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Joe Root Photoshoot
Root was named Alastair Cook's successor in February (Source: Getty)

England skipper Joe Root admits he will be relieved to finally begin his tenure as Test captain on Thursday against South Africa – five months after he was confirmed as Alastair Cook’s successor.

Root has sought counsel from predecessors such as Cook and team-mates as he prepares to take on the extra responsibility, although the 26-year-old batsman intends to retain his characteristic spontaneity.

“It has felt forever since that announcement, so now I am really looking forward to the next five days,” said Root.

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“I have been speaking to a few people and thinking about how I want things to go. I want to be quite natural and instinctive when I get out there, with a good balance of both.”

Root confirmed that Hampshire all-rounder Liam Dawson is set to play in the first Test, having been preferred to uncapped Middlesex seamer Toby Roland-Jones.

England are set to select two spinners in a Lord’s Test for the first time in 24 years, with Dawson joined by Moeen Ali.

The recalled Gary Ballance is set to return at No3 in the batting order, with Root dropping down a place.

“He’s had his success when he has batted at three, his game is in good order, he has played very well this season and does look a different player to last time he represented England,” Root added.

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