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Joe Root: The Test specialist

By Real11 - Jun 16 2022 49 Views
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Joe Root: The resurgence of the modern day legend  

On the fourth day of the first test between England and New Zealand, former English skipper Joe Root became only the 14th cricketer in the history of Test cricket to score 10,000 Test runs. With his 10,00th run, Root also brought up his 26th Test century. He is now only seven centuries behind Sir Alaistair Cook, who is also the leading run scorer for England with 12,472 runs. In this article, we will look at all the factors and stats that make the 31 year old a modern day great. 

 

A player for all conditions

Different countries offer different challenges to a cricketer. Many good cricketers are remarkable on home conditions but struggle to adapt with the differing conditions far from home. Great players like Joe Root find a way to adjust their game as per the conditions. 

Except Bangladesh, the English international averages 35+ in all the eight other nations he has batted. He averages more than 50 in six countries that pose different challenges like uneven bounce, sluggish pace and movement both in the air and off the pitch. Root averages just below 25 in Bangladesh but has only played two tests there.

England batsmen are not very fond of spin bowlers. They are not perceived to be good players of spin; however Root is an exception. 41 batters from England have a combined average of 40+ in conditions favourable for spinners. Out of those 41, only 10 have played 10 or more than 10 test matches on spin friendly tracks like India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Root averages close to 52 which is the second highest of them all, having played 17 matches.

 

The Fab Four

The fab four comprises four star batters of the 21st century. Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Kane Willamson and Joe Root are often spoken in the same breadth in terms of the yardstick of batting in this generation. Root was often ranked fourth on the list, as his tally of hundreds was never close to the other three. With 26 centuries to his name, Root is only short of equalling Kohli and Smith’s record of 27 Test centuries. In terms of runs he is 1972 runs clear of the next batter- Virat Kohli (8043).

Root has also recorded the most number of fifties (53) and the most 50+ scores (79). Although Root leads the charts in various aspects, a lot of it is aided by the fact that England play relatively more number of tests in a calendar year than any other nation. 

 

The Revival

Of the top four, Root has been the most consistent, most improved and the most in-form batter. Since his return to the test side in early 2021 he has been consistently amongst the runs. He was often criticised for his inability to convert his starts into substantial contributions. It has all changed over the last couple of years. 

Besides England, Root has played in Australia, India, Sri Lanka, and West Indies, since the start of 2021. Except for Australia, he has scored a century in all the other countries. And they were not just regular Hundreds, they were Daddy Hundreds. 

In this spell, only three batters Usman Khawaja (125.16), Abdullah Shafique (68.37)  and Dimuth Karunaratne (60.8)-average more than Root’s 56.2. But Root has played nearly twice the matches (21) as compared to Karunaratne 11, and the other two have just played 5 matches each

The huge gap between Root and the others is largely because of England playing more number of test matches than the others. But Root’s proficiency and consistency with bat in hand, often being the lone warrior for his team, is what makes him distinctive and a notch above the others.

 

What’s Next?

A landmark of 10,000 Test runs is a gigantic feat in cricket. Although still a long way away, Root’s ultimate target should be the milestone of 15291-  the record for the most number of test runs set by the great Sachin Tendulkar. With age on his side and England playing more tests in a calendar year than any other country, Root seems to be the most likely candidate to challenge the world record.

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