The four best young batsmen in test cricket could have a cracking chat group if they fancied it.

Not only could Steven Smith, Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Joe Root compare cover drives and late cuts, but also the view from the top of the captaincy tree.

Root's ascension to England captain this week puts him with the other three, who have taken charge of Australia, India and New Zealand's international teams respectively.

Root, at 26, is joint youngest with Williamson; Kohli is 28, Smith 27.


The Yorkshireman's only captaincy experience is four games for his county, but he's expected to present a more positive face on the English game than his predecessor Alastair Cook, who often seemed more wedded to not losing than pressing for victory.

The other test nations are captained either by a batsman (South Africa and Pakistan), a wicketkeeper-batsman (Bangladesh), an allrounder (Sri Lanka, although Angelo Mathews test bowling credentials make that description marginal), a legspinner (Zimbabwe) and a bowling allrounder (West Indies).

Root will cast a look at his three batting rivals' records with a degree of envy too.

Since they became captains, the test batting averages of Smith, Kohli and Williamson have climbed.

Smith's average is up from 51.83 to 73.73; Kohli has jumped from 41.13 to 67.22 while Williamson was at 49.23 and as skipper he's at 55.0.

Root's test average now is 46.3, so let's see which way it moves when he steps on the captaincy ladder.

Grist to the argument that the really good players thrive with extra responsibility.

Root's first test in charge won't come until July, after the Champions Trophy when South Africa are scheduled to visit.

His first mission statement included this: "Looking around the world, other guys in a similar position to me have taken similar responsibility and taken their game to the next level, so I'd like to think if I go about it the right way I'll be able to do the same thing."

No prizes for guessing who he was referring to.

England also took the chance to name a vice-captain, with a New Zealand flavour. Christchurch-born Ben Stokes, son of former Kiwi prop Gerard Stokes, is at 25, the heir apparent, which seems a role confirmed with indecent haste.

Root hasn't even got his feet under the table and his successor is being groomed.

Some countries love a vice-captain, England clearly being one. Others less so, New Zealand a case in point. It was obvious who Brendon McCullum's No 2 was, less so with Williamson.

Williamson has led New Zealand in 31 of 32 matches since last March, the one exception the Kolkata test last October when he was ill.

But in the days of increasingly hectic schedules, the ability of these young batting captains to perform at their peak in all three international forms will become increasingly strained without careful management.

The only problem will be for the blokes who have to tell them they need to sit a match out for the sake of their health.