Sir Alastair Cook has hailed England Test captain Joe Root as “one of the best I have ever seen” following his heroic first inning haul against Sri Lanka.
Cook, who captained England between 2009 and 2017, will be part of BBC Radio Five Live’s Test Match Special coverage of the second Test of Sri Lanka v England.
He was left thoroughly impressed by what he saw from the tourists’ first outing of 2021 as Root produced a magnificent 228 runs off 328 balls in the first innings to put England firmly in control.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Cook said: “I think the break will have done [Root] good.
“He’s captained England 40-odd times and won a hell of a lot of games.
“The break will have just freshened him up, simplified his mind about the game and he is a seriously good player – he is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
“It was only a matter of time before he played like that. He’s got so many low-risk options that it’s so hard to stop him scoring as an opponent.
“He just plays the game away from you when he gets in that rhythm so easily. It was very, very impressive.”
Root has come under scrutiny in some quarters following an indifferent, albeit disjointed, calendar year with England in 2020.
Cook believes a slight dip in Root’s form still amounted in totals that most batsmen would gladly take on their records.
He said: “It’s the standard he sets himself. He is a seriously good player and his slight dip is what everyone else would take as a pretty good year.
“Yes, he didn’t get 100 [in 2020], but he showed his class in that first innings and went big. He was the difference between the two sides, there is no doubt about it.
“There’s 17 Test matches in the year, to win, to start like that himself, there can be no better feeling.
“It was a pleasure to watch him play and I actually thought the way he captained as well, it wasn’t easy to captain there.”
On top of merely donning the pads and picking shots, Cook praised Root’s ability as captain of the side, especially during such an unpredictable period for the team.
“It’s a consuming job. It’s all-consuming. It’s a brilliant job, there’s a lot of things you have to deal with, not just playing.
“This year he’ll have sat in more Zoom meetings and talked about COVID bubbles than you’d ever want to.
“On top of that he’s the player’s representative, and on top of that he’s got to make sure the game’s in order.
“It’s a massive job, but his record now is pretty much unbelievable if you look at the people he’s equalling and going to go past.
“He’ll be England’s most successful captain in terms of wins pretty soon – an amazing achievement.”
England’s tour of Sri Lanka will be live on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Test Match Special until 26th January.
Check out our guide to Sri Lanka v England including a full TV and radio schedule.
If you’re looking for something else to watch check out our TV Guide.