Joe Root’s final days as England captain often resembled a deathly sorrow. Stood at slips, a resigned grin shyly appearing, shoulders hunched, Root looked less a leader of the Three Lions, more a rabbit stuck in the headlights. While he would often burst forth with the bat, scripting sublime knocks, the toils of overseeing session after session of patchy cricket coupled with verbal spitfires from across the fence had its inevitable consequences. Speaking to reporters after the Lords’ test, Root recalled feeling mentally exhausted by the end of it all:

“It had become a very unhealthy relationship, to be honest – the captaincy and me, it started to really take a bad toll on my own personal health. I couldn’t leave it at the ground any more; it was coming home. It wasn’t fair on my family, on people close to me, and it wasn’t fair on myself either,” quotes the Reuters.

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Stepping down after the test series in the Caribbean-on the heels of a crushing Ashes series– he was replaced by his long-time aide and on-field confidant, Ben Stokes. Formally taking his bow as permanent England captain, the Christchurch born all-rounder was on hand to watch his star batsman stroke England to victory in a topsy-turvy first test at Lords. Chasing 277, England was in the pits at 69/4, but in Root, they had a steady presence. His sterling 115* is an instant Lords classic against a skilful bowling side. Batting with an easy elegance, Root would reacquaint himself with the more loving aspects of cricket: runs, wins, respect, love, the whole cocktail.  In doing so, he would also beat his old captain Alistair Cook to become the fastest Englishman to 10000 runs. Cook, himself on commentary duty with the BBC, would later gush about the Yorkshireman’s brilliance to the broadcaster:

“He is a pleasure to watch, the most complete England batsman I have seen. The person who could play the most incredible innings was Kevin Pietersen, but for the most complete batsmen in all three forms, it’s Root. His consistency is incredible.”

Predicting him to surpass his tally of runs, he touched upon Root’s stress-free knack for scoring runs:

“I would never have said I would finish at 33, but the time felt right for me. The mental strain I felt to score runs took a toll on me. I’m not saying it’s easy for him, but he doesn’t seem to have that problem.”

“Barring injury, he’ll go miles past my record.”

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Having relinquished captaincy duties, the 31-year-old can exclusively focus on his batting. If his match-winning century is of any indication, Root seems to have rediscovered a slice of his own self.