For those who have followed the fortunes of the English Test team, or have even paid cursory attention to its performance over the last couple of years, would know that the results have been below expectations. Yes, England's ODI cricket has reached an all-time high but the Test team has disappointed.
The batting has been a big letdown. Again, and again, the English side has endured terrible collapses. Most experts think that the main reason behind England's failures in the longest format has been the inability of their batsmen to bat in the 'Test-match mode.' Long innings from the English batsmen have become a rarity in recent times.
With the Three Lions losing their first Test in New Zealand, captain Joe Root came into focus and demands for his removal from the job of leading the team became common. However, these commentaries are not unsympathetic towards Root. On the contrary, the very reason these people feel that he shouldn't be the captain is because they are worried about the adverse effect of captaincy on his batting.
Now that Root has scored a brilliant hundred against New Zealand, with his team under pressure, would these demands fade away? More importantly, should they fade away? Were they justified in the beginning? To understand this, let us look at why so many people are concerned about Root in the first place.
In recent times, Root has been bracketed along with Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson as part of the four leading batsmen of current generation. Unfortunately, while Smith and Kohli have climbed dizzying heights of success and Williamson too hasn't been far behind, Root seems to have got stuck in his progress.
At the start of his career, and for some time after it, he was expected to emerge as one of the greatest English batsmen of all time. But in the last couple of years, his output with the bat has been very underwhelming. Yes, he has played the odd good knock, including a brilliant hundred in spin-friendly conditions of Sri Lanka, but for a batsman of his quality, they are too few.
A consensus seemed like developing in the English cricket fraternity that the continuing occupation of the captain's position by Root was proving detrimental to both him and his team. Those who felt Root should be removed from captaincy believe that by focusing only on his batting, he would reach his potential as a batsman.
These people also believe that others in the team would be able to do a better job. Considering that England have lost an away series to West Indies earlier this year and failed to win the Ashes, and are now looking like losing to New Zealand does suggest that Root hasn't been up to the mark.
More importantly, he is too valuable as a batsman for England to compromise his batting. If his captaincy was outstanding, then there would have been a case to keep him in charge. But there is no indication of that. Instead, he is producing lesser runs than the team requires from him.
So, the debate on Root's position as the captain of the team should continue. He may have silenced his critics for the moment, but those critics do have a point. Temporary success shouldn't affect long-term thinking.