ENGLAND captains have been called many things over the years, lauded and lampooned, but "annoying little brother" is surely a new one to add to the canon.

That is how Graeme Swann described the new England skipper Joe Root last summer, a sobriquet filled with affection but couched as a warning: that Root was a free spirit who should not be tied down by leadership.

Root shares many of Swann's traits, exceptional skill in his field, easy good humour and a healthy dash of impertinence. But while England were happy to let Swann focus on his brilliant spin bowling and his one-liners, Root has been earmarked for the top job for several years.

How the Yorkshireman fits the blazer promises to be fascinating.

His most recent predecessors, Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, were entirely at home in the role, born to ceremonial duties and the general sobriety that comes with it.

Root is a different proposition. Deadly serious about his cricket - don't doubt that for a second - but also able to see the lighter side of life and indulge a little silliness along the way.

In the 2015 Ashes it was Root who creased with laughter as Cook copped an eye-watering blow to the groin while fielding in the slips, echoing the reactions of fans up and down the country.

He also had a fit of the giggles when a female spectator took a tumble from her seat while on the big screen at Lord's, briefly halting play to enjoy a replay.

Once the urn was secured he donned a comedy latex mask and gave a television interview while doing passable Bob Willis impression.

Finally, in the last press conference of the series, he corpsed one last time, tittering at the most tenuous double entendre imaginable as Cook made an innocent reference to "Broady's length".

The older man feigned disapproval, tutting "you and your one-track mind...I'm trying to do a serious interview".

For a brief moment, it seemed the pair were pitching for an unlikely cricketing sitcom, with Cook as the straight man and Root a Sheffield-born Kenneth Williams.

But Root was not only playing it for laughs that summer, he was at the heart of England's success.

His tally of 460 runs was the hosts' highest by a margin of 130, his average of 57.50 formidable and he contributed two centuries in winning causes at Cardiff and Trent Bridge for good measure.

So let there be no worries about Root's vibrant personality, for it has never dulled his competitive edge.

His captaincy will be different to Cook's but at this stage change is probably the point. Captaincy switches are not about sharing the media duties and giving somebody else a chance to toss the coin.

Nasser Hussain was edgier than the patricians who came before, Michael Atherton and Alec Stewart, Michael Vaughan brought vitality and vision when Hussain's race was run and Andrew Strauss restored calmness and clarity after a brief and chaotic spell under Kevin Pietersen.

Root offers youth, vivacity and levity, qualities which arguably ran short in supply in the latter days of Cook's 59 Tests at the helm.

The very traits Swann believes mark him out as a perfect team man but not a perfect team leader could yet be the pillars around which he remoulds the team.

There is a second, familiar argument that speaks against the Root captaincy - that he is the country's best player and should not be saddled with the extra mental strain.

The case studies are well known and well worn: Sir Ian Botham, Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen were all leading lights who did not bear the burden lightly.

But those three men were far from identical, failing in different moments for different reasons, and Root's 11 Test centuries, enviable average (52.80) and importance to the cause should not be held against him.

It is widely held that Root, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson are the finest batsmen of their generation and all four now hold the Test captaincy of their national side. It would be stuffy, conservative and backward thinking for England to shuffle their own ace back into pack before he has even had a chance.

Sometimes annoying little brothers can be put to good use after all.