Joe Root Challenges to Keep Improving In Test Outfit

Joe Root became England’s all-time highest one-day century-makers as he moved past Somerset opener Marcus Trescothick with his 13th ODI hundred at Headingley a couple of days ago.

Cricket news: Root also speaks about his famous “bat drop” celebration

The 27-year-old’s form was being questioned before the beginning of the series and was also dropped from the T20 side. However England’s batting coach Graham Thorpe had full belief on Root’s ability.

He had previously scored just two half centuries in 12 innings in all formats and was becoming frustrated with the way everything was going on.

Root’s position in the T20 side is still not guaranteed, which he could correct by performing well in the coming winter season of Big Bash. But there was no doubt with his ODI batting position, even after his struggle in the recently concluded five-match series against Australia.

Root averages 52 in ODI and he is the binding factor in the entire batting lineup. His back-to-back centuries in Lord’s and Headingley proved his ability to adapt in any condition, to play fluently against both pace and spin and to manoeuvre the field with his excellent strokeplay.

England’s captain Eoin Morgan was pleased to experience Root’s innings from the other end and said, “The composure he’s shown in the last two games is the Joe Root we know and trust.”

“It’s been a weird one really, I’ve not felt like I’ve been playing poorly or there’s been any sort of glaring mistakes in my game, but I think it’s why it was more frustrating,” Root said in Leeds with the man of the series award round his neck. “I just went back to what has held me in really good stead for such a long time — trying to keep focusing on playing the situation, letting the guys bat around me and giving them the freedom to go and play.”

Indian spinner Kuldeep Yadav had got Root’s wicket twice in first three balls – one in first T20I at Old Trafford and the second in the first ODI at Trent Bridge.

But in the next two games, Root changed his technique, playing back at Lord’s and forward at Leeds. Root noted that he needed to be crisper and quicker against Kuldeep.

“I looked at the three balls I faced and got out to,” Root smiled. “I felt like I was picking him fine and when you look at it for what it actually was, both games my movements weren’t quick enough and I wasn’t getting close enough to the ball, either going forward or back. Best players of spin in the world, their footwork is always sharp and when that contact point is there, you’re as still as possible.”

When England needed just one run to win, Root still needed three to get his 13th century. He managed to club the ball and celebrated with a “bat drop”, a look-alike of Barack Obama’s famous “mic drop” at a White House dinner.

Root later regretted the celebration saying, “I’ve not heard the end of it, it was literally the most embarrassing thing I’ve done on a cricket field. I don’t think it will be the last I hear of it from the group — they’ve been hammering me. You’d think if you were going to do a celebration like that, you’d have smacked it 30 yards out of the park…it was just an absolute car crash.”

With the ODI format ending, Root and England will now focus on the Test series which will begin from August 1 at Edgbaston. Before that Root will begin his preparation by playing County Championship game for Yorkshire against Lancashire which will begin on Sunday (July 22).

England’s Test captain, Joe Root,  feels it will be a totally different series as he said, “It’s a completely different format and I think more importantly, [England need to] take all the good stuff we did in that last Test here [at Headingley] against Pakistan and try to replicate as much of that as possible. It left us a good benchmark.

“The way we approached it as a group, the mindset and attitude was really good. It was a good starting point for this team to kick-on after what’s been a difficult winter. That’s how I am going to judge it and that’s what I am going to put to the guys: how can we take that forward now?

“One thing that’s been really good about this one-day group [is] the attitude this team has to learning and developing, something we are trying hard to replicate within the Test team. One thing we are trying to instil in this group is we’ve got to keep improving.

“We’ve got to find windows within a summer, within a series, to work on things and look ahead and make sure we’re ready for different surfaces, to make sure we are ready if it spins a little bit earlier within the game – when we get to Sri Lanka for example, we are ready for those surfaces as well. Hopefully over time, and it’s not something that will happen overnight, we’ll see big improvements long-term within the group.”