Amid stinging criticism of Joe Root’s captaincy in the wake of England’s meek surrender in the Ashes series, former skipper Mike Atherton said all-rounder Ben Stokes is a viable alternative to replace the Yorkshireman.

Atherton also said coach Chris Silverwood should be shown the door after the series, which Australia have already wrapped up with two matches to spare.

Root, who has not won any of his three Ashes series in charge, was reluctant to discuss the long-term future of his captaincy after England lost by an innings and 14 runs in the third test in Melbourne.

“There have been so many errors here, from selection to strategy, that the captain has to bear personal responsibility … This could have been a much closer series had Root got things right on the field,” Atherton wrote in The Times.

“Root has been a good England captain, and has always carried himself superbly and is an incredible ambassador for the sport, but having done the job for five years and having had three cracks at the Ashes, including two awful campaigns in Australia, it is time for someone else to have a go.

“Ben Stokes is a viable alternative, having done an excellent job as a stand-in briefly in the summer. His bowling is starting to wind down, and, as he may not get into England’s best T20 side now, he can be given a breather during those matches.”

Atherton added Silverwood had proved a poor appointment and was “out of his depth”.

“At the moment there seems to be an absence of authority and an unwillingness to challenge the players,” he said.

“There is no way Silverwood will (or should) survive the Ashes, which should allow a reorganisation of the coaching and selecting responsibilities.”

The fourth Ashes test will begin in Sydney on January 5.


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