Ashes 2013-14: Joe Root should replace Jonathan Trott at No 3, says Michael Atherton

Joe Root (left) opened the batting for England in the 2013 Ashes series. He is likely to move from his current No 6 position to the No 3 slot vacated by Jonathan Trott, due to a stress-related illness © Getty Images

Sydney: Nov 26, 2013

Michael Atherton on Tuesday said Joe Root was the obvious replacement at No 3 for troubled Jonathan Trott as Australian newspapers came under fire for being insensitive in their treatment of the player.

The former England captain said the baby-faced Root had proved he could handle fiery paceman Mitchell Johnson in the tense climax of the first Ashes 2013-14 Test on Sunday to survive on 26 not out.

“I thought Root played really well at the dying end of the Test at The Gabba; I thought he looked really solid,” he told Sky News of Root, who is an opener by trade and played that role with Alastair Cook in the previous Ashes series earlier this year.

“He played Mitchell Johnson well, he looked compact, he got a nice stride into the ball.

“He also dealt with all of the verbals. It was a very intense passage of play and his angelic smile seemed to disarm Mitchell Johnson as well.”

Atherton said this made Root the obvious choice to move up the order from six to replace Trott, who dramatically left the Ashes tour of Australia on Monday with a “stress-related illness“, widely reported to be depression.

While Atherton favours Root at three, another former England skipper Nasser Hussain threw his support behind Ian Bell, who has long batted at No 5.

“Bell is a high-class, experienced player with lots of touch. He’s got runs against Australia of late and he is the obvious man to move up to No 3,” he told reporters.

Jonny Bairstow is seen as a logical No 6 for whoever moves up the order, although the Adelaide Oval wicket may be better suited to all-rounder Ben Stokes.