Perhaps it was inevitable that in being a leader, an ambassador, an entertainer and a salesman, something had to give
Three years ago, I went to Sheffield to interview Joe Root. It was his first summer as England captain and as he parsed his way through a series of solemn, proportionate answers about New Responsibilities and Exciting Opportunities, I became increasingly fascinated by his demeanour. His posture was nervous and awkward; his gestures self-conscious and uncertain; his words stilted and punctuated by short involuntary intakes of breath. It seemed like Root still was still trying to work out whether the England captaincy was something into which you grow or shrink. Whether it bottles you up or sets you free.
A couple of weeks later, someone in the England camp informed me Root had read my article and was a little put out. Not angry. Not upset. Just a bit surprised, as anyone might be if they’d seen their verbal tics and physical mannerisms deconstructed in creepily forensic detail in a national newspaper. Even so, Root’s reaction struck me as atypical. If this was his response to a largely innocuous slice of cod-psychology, how would he handle the merciless media roastings, the poison-pen campaigns, the barefaced lies to come? The England captaincy, after all, is hardly a job for someone who cares what other people think.
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