Joe Root is already earmarked as a “future England captain” in the Andrew Strauss era.
New England and Wales Cricket Board director Strauss has had to make a series of tough calls on personnel, and it seems rising star Root is set to be the foundation of his vision for the team in years to come.
Strauss oversaw the sacking of coach Peter Moores within half-an-hour of his own appointment last weekend and then courted even greater controversy when he confirmed there will be no way back for maverick batsman Kevin Pietersen this Ashes summer.
Root’s elevation to vice-captain under Alastair Cook, replacing Ian Bell, barely rose above the sub-text two days ago - such was the furore over the continued exile of Pietersen because of “massive trust issues”.
But as Bell had to come to terms with losing his deputy role to Root publicly on Thursday at an event arranged by Test match sponsors Investec, it became clear Strauss had already privately explained his reasoning.
England have won and drawn their last two Test series with Bell as Cook’s vice-captain, but it is Root’s upward trajectory and the qualities Strauss has spotted in the 24-year-old batsman which have been the telling factors in the switch.
Bell, nine years Root’s senior and hoping to help win the Ashes for a fifth time this summer, has been assured it is not what he has done wrong but what the younger man is doing right.
“It wasn’t about what’s happened in the two series,” said Bell, who has 108 Tests to his name.
“Now he (Strauss) sees Rooty as a future England captain, and time to start giving him responsibility.
“It’s a smart move. He’s got a good cricket brain.
“It will be good for him to learn a few more of the things that are going on with Cooky, so he can be a good England captain one day.”
The natural cycle continues then, one with which Strauss himself is familiar - having been a successful England captain who stepped aside after his 100th Test and gave way to Cook.
Bell has enjoyed his role as vice-captain, but understands the reasons for change.
“I had a good conversation with Straussy about that,” he said.
“I said I was disappointed.
“I’ve grown with that responsibility. But it won’t change how I approach things.
“We’ve got to start looking forward - and Joe Root is an England captain of the future, there’s no doubt about that. We don’t know when he’ll take over, but he’s an England captain of the future.”
Whoever takes charge, or assists, on and off the pitch - Strauss hopes to complete his search for a new coach, with Jason Gillespie still the front-runner, by the time the Ashes starts - Bell concedes results need to improve.
A tough Ashes hors d’oeuvre against New Zealand, starting at Lord’s next week, will expose any weaknesses - and Bell is well aware England begin the summer with much to prove.
He likens the situation, however, to spring 2005 - the year in which he was part of an Ashes-winning team for the first time.
“Certainly, it’s not in the place we’d like right now,” he said.
“We’ve had some really good times. But the last 12 months have been tough on and off the field, it’s not been great.
“Now we have to change that.”
They must do so too against both of this year’s World Cup finalists, having come up embarrassingly short themselves against the two co-hosts before their early exit down under.
“Where Australia are and where we are, it’s going to be a similar situation to 2005,” Bell added.
“We’ll have to do something pretty special.
“Michael Vaughan (England’s winning captain a decade ago) wanted us to take them on and lose doing that rather than playing passive cricket.
“We’ll have to take the odd risk.
“(But) if we play good cricket, we can start getting people talking about cricket again.”
England will doubtless learn more next week about how Strauss wants to whip them into shape, alongside caretaker coach Paul Farbrace.
So far, he has given Bell and others just a flavour of what may be to come.
“I’m sure he’ll speak to the group when we meet at Lord’s,” he said.
“So it’s just an introduction on what his role will be and what he wants from us.”
England and their new director will need to come up with some pretty stirring answers, by word and deed, in the coming weeks and months.