Despite a meteoric start to 2021, England captain Joe Root insists his best is still ahead of him
Joe Root has made 103 tests, captained 50 and scored more points – averaging 50 – than any English bar Alastair Cook and Graham Gooch. If he left now, he would already fall like a great one in England. But opposition bowlers need to be warned: Root believes he’s about to embark on the best phase of his career.
As England prepare for Wednesday’s first test against New Zealand at Lord’s, he seems comfortable with the task ahead – a potentially memorable eight-month period that includes a five-game streak against India and Australia, and could end with his face chiseled in English cricket. Imaginary Mount Rushmore.
Nothing is guaranteed, of course, and Ashes tours can be brutal. But Root, who turned 30 in December, seems well placed. Scores of 228, 186 and 218 in successive tests in Sri Lanka and India earlier this year reaffirmed his membership in the so-called Fab Four – with Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson – and he strengthened his grip on bar.
England captain Joe Root believes he’s about to embark on the best phase of his career
England take on Kane Williamson’s New Zealand ahead of a five-test run against Virat Kohli’s India
Joe Root is in good batting form in 2021
Ed Smith’s recent departure as national selector has created a streamlined setup that allows Root to better tell who is playing under him, while his relationship with head coach and fellow Yorkshireman Chris Silverwood is solid.
He has the respect of his senior teammates, Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. He even started taking wickets with his underrated off-spin, including an absurd five-for-eight in Ahmedabad.
“ I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the last year or so and now have a good handle on things, ” he says. Sports messaging. “I’m obviously disappointed with the way India finished, but I have a feeling that we are making great progress as a test group, and we are entering an exciting phase of matches, which could really allow us to flourish. “
Above all, perhaps, a penny fell. In Galle and Chennai in January and February, Root fought with a determination that has too often been missing. It was as if he understood that turning the seventies into two hundredths was actually not selfish, but the best way to win. Leading by example is suddenly the model.
Then came England’s attempts to regain the ashes as they made their way to Australia.
“I certainly think the best is yet to come,” he said. “I want to have more playoffs like the start of this winter, and produce those big hundreds that help you win playoffs. I can’t wait to make the next phase of my career a peak.
“I worked really hard on a few aspects of my game, both mental and technical. I feel a lot more in control and I feel like I’m playing the ball a lot later. To me, it’s the art of the stick – if you can keep your head and hands as close as possible, you give yourself a better chance. I hope I can have an exceptional year.
And the Fab Four? “I think it’s more for cricket fans than the four guys we’re talking about. It’s really nice to be in the same conversation as these three, because they are wonderful players. But it’s about producing, not what people say about you.
Root, who was speaking at the launch of Cinch’s partnership with English cricket, has been in charge of the test team for over four years, which is usually when England captains start to think about life. beyond the border.
Root reaffirmed his place in the Fab Four with Kohli, Babar Azam (left) and Steve Smith (right)
Cook lasted four and a half years, Andrew Strauss three and a half years, Kevin Pietersen a matter of months. Michael Vaughan arrived almost five years old and Nasser Hussain made it four. Before Alec Stewart’s brief reign, Mike Atherton was four and a half, Gooch three and a half.
There’s an established shelf life, and Root – in theory – should get closer to its own. But he seems to see his place in the captaincy cycle as closer to the end of the beginning than the beginning of the end. Tellingly, he quotes Graeme Smith, who led South Africa in a world record 108 tests between 2003 and 2014.
“Everyone’s journey is different,” he says. “ I think there is a point where you have to call him, or someone calls him for you, but Graeme Smith’s shelf life was much longer than most. Hope this isn’t a massive discussion over the next period, and I’m leading forward with lots of points.
If Root is warming up to his task, then he is also careful not to portray seven home tests and five in Australia as a blank slate following the 3-1 loss on extravagant turning grounds in India.
Root cited Graeme Smith, who led South Africa in a world record 108 tests between 2003 and 2014 in regards to his own cycle as captain.
“You have to learn and evolve,” he says. “ These experiences will hold us in good stead at some point, and it’s important not to just ignore what happened there.
“We’re going to play in very different conditions this summer, and in the ashes, but there are elements of India that we can take forward. One thing we can take away from that is the pressure side in these difficult situations: how do you deal with it mentally, how do you transfer it to other parts of the world?
The issue of discrimination, especially racial, and the response of English cricket are also part of Root’s board. Last summer, the Test and the One-Day Players took a knee before games against the West Indies and Ireland, then stopped for tours of Pakistan and Australia. Michael Holding called the tack change “lame”.
“It’s something we’ve talked about a lot and are very fond of,” says Root. “ It’s very important that the game is for everyone and we’re doing everything we can as a team to make sure everyone is fully aware of it.
“ I know that we will continue to have these discussions and work very hard to use our platform as international players to make the game as diverse as possible. You’ll definitely see that with things we’ll be putting into action this summer.
Root said he understood why some criticized the decision to stop having a knee in mid-summer.
When asked if he could understand why some criticized the decision to stop having a knee in mid-summer, Root hesitates, then settles for a one-word response that can reveal as much as ‘she hides:’ Yeah ‘.
It’s a reminder that the work of a test captain in the third decade of the 21st century transcends points and winning streaks. And that’s before moving on to life under Covid, in the ‘safe living environment’ as Root calls it – part of England’s efforts to break out of the ‘bubble’ and its oppressive connotations.
If that means he’s not always able to call on his top-notch squad due to the new policy of rest and rotation, so be it.
“It is essential that the well-being of the players is above all else,” he said. “ I think we’ve actually handled it pretty well, and the guys have been honest and open with where they’re at. We will see long term benefits. It is difficult to find a good balance, but we have tried to do good by the players.
On the pitch, Root believes his players are starting to do the right thing and are more consistent
On the pitch, he thinks his players are starting to do the right thing. “We know we’re not the best team in the world right now, and there is real room for improvement,” he said.
“But we have started to be more consistent in some areas that have let us down in the past. We score bigger points in the first round. We take 20 counters more frequently away from home. If we can continue this trend, we will knock on the door as soon as possible.
And if Root’s bat may need a lot of punching, you think he’s ready.
Joe Root teamed up with Cinch, England’s new main cricket partner, as Ramsbottom CC tried to get him out, in the ultimate matchless match. Head over to @cinchUK on Tuesday to see the hilarious results. Cinch makes car buying simple with quality checked used cars delivered right to the buyer’s doorstep, no matter where they are in mainland Britain, and a 14 day money back guarantee.