England appoints Root as test captain in place of Cook

FILE - This is a Saturday, April 2, 2016  file photo of  England's Joe Root as he arrives for a practice session a day ahead of their final match of the ICC World Twenty20 2016 cricket against West Indies, in Kolkata, India. Joe Root was been appointed England test cricket captain on Monday Feb. 13, 2017. The 26-year-old Root replaces Alastair Cook, who resigned last week after  a record 59 tests in charge. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das, File)

LONDON (AP) Joe Root, arguably England’s best batsman, was appointed test cricket captain Monday.

The 26-year-old Root replaces Alastair Cook, who resigned last week after 4+ years and a record 59 tests in charge.

”It is a huge honor to be given the England test captaincy,” Root said in a statement. ”I feel privileged, humbled and very excited.

”We have a very good group of players and I’m looking forward to leading them out in the summer, building on Alastair’s achievements and making the most of our talents in the years ahead.”

Root’s first assignment will be a four-test home series against South Africa starting in July. England then takes on the West Indies in a three-test series before flying to Australia for the Ashes. He will be supported by Ben Stokes as vice-captain.

Root, who has already had an eventful year following the birth of his first child last month, has long been viewed as Cook’s heir apparent despite having little captaincy experience.

He made his test debut in December 2012 and was named vice-captain to Cook in 2015. He scored the first of his 11 test centuries at Headingley in May 2013 and currently has a total of 4,594 test runs at an average of 52.80, placing him third in the ICC rankings for test batsmen.

Andrew Strauss, England’s director of cricket, said Root had demonstrated ”his drive, determination, cricketing intelligence and an ability to learn that will serve him well in his new role.”

”He is universally respected by his teammates, passionate about driving the Test team forward and extremely excited about the prospect of leading his country,” Strauss said.

Cook, England’s record run-scorer, decided to stepped down after the 4-0 test series loss to India.