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‘Special’ Joe Root adds gloss to his greatness with mind-boggling six for England at Trent Bridge | Cricket News



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Joe Root reverse scooped a stunned Tim Southee over third man off the second ball he faced on day four

Joe Root reverse scooped a stunned Tim Southee over third man off the second ball he faced on day four

It was one of those wow moments.

From the second ball he faced on day four at Trent Bridge, Joe Root reverse-scooped a dumbfounded Tim Southee for six over third man.

“Unbelievable,” said Michael Atherton, on commentary. “Outrageous,” added Simon Doull. “When you’re that good you can do what you want it seems,” said Ben Foakes at stumps, having been at the non-striker’s end when Root played the most impudent of shots.

“As current players, we have the ability to rewrite the coaching manual,” Root had told Sky Sports before play. Well, Joe, you’ve succeeded – again.

Everything this man does is special – the way he bats, the way he behaves, the way he carries himself on and off the field. Brendon McCullum is bringing enjoyment to this England team and remembering what it was like when you were a youngster and wanted to play for your country. No one epitomises that feeling more than Root.

Nasser Hussain on Joe Root

England captain Ben Stokes, no stranger to moments of audacious cricketing brilliance himself, was probably shaking his head in awe.

Stokes had done just that on day three after watching Root whip Southee for an on-side four – stunned at the ease with which his team-mate is making the arduous task of scoring Test runs look.

That boundary through midwicket took Root past 150 for the 13th time in the Test format. Earlier on Sunday, he had clinched his 27th Test hundred.

Highlights from Root's 27th, and fastest, Test hundred as he continued his sensational form in Test cricket

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Highlights from Root’s 27th, and fastest, Test hundred as he continued his sensational form in Test cricket

Highlights from Root’s 27th, and fastest, Test hundred as he continued his sensational form in Test cricket

It was his 10th ton in his last 22 matches, during which time he has now reeled off 2,368 runs at an average of 59.20. “This is Joe Root’s world and we are living in it,” were Nasser Hussain’s words. Quite.

There was a time not so long ago when Root’s place among the ‘Fab Four’ – Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli the other members of that – appeared to be slipping. Not anymore.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam’s advancement means that is arguably now a ‘Fab Five’. Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne could suggest it is a ‘Supreme Six’ – but however large that group is, Root surely heads it at the moment.

The ICC Test rankings don’t reflect that, with Labuschagne at the summit, but it seems inevitable Root will regain that berth. It seems inevitable he will score runs every time he bats.

Root’s previous ‘weakness’ of failing to covert half-centuries into hundreds has been eradicated. Of the previous 14 times he has passed fifty, 10 of those have been turned into tons. He has converted each of his last four fifties into three figures – and he has done it with the utmost class.

Deft steers through backward point and third man; coruscating drives through cover and mid-off, pulls and clips through the leg-side; conventional and reverse sweeps. Lethal all around the ground.

To those strokes, we can now add that reverse scoop off Southee, as well as a scintillating shot down the ground off the same bowler on Sunday evening, when he fetched the ball from outside off stump and pinged it through mid-on. Rewrites the coaching manual, does our Joe!

The mantra of positivity that has been espoused by captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum appears to have had an impact on opener Alex Lees, whose run rate has increased in this series from its oft-funereal pace in the West Indies. Lees not quite the hare but no longer the tortoise.

Root smiles during his score of 176 in England's first innings in Nottingham

Root smiles during his score of 176 in England’s first innings in Nottingham

Root has never struggled to get the right balance between proactive and reckless. He is a master of keeping the scoreboard ticking along while remaining largely risk-free. “You look up and Root is already on 40” is a well-used phrase in commentary boxes across the world.

But even he excelled himself at Trent Bridge, turning his fastest Test fifty (56 balls) into his briskest Test ton (116 balls) during a 187-run stand with fellow centurion Ollie Pope, who went on to call his team-mate “England’s greatest ever”. It’s becoming hard to make a case against that.

Anointing someone as ‘the greatest’ is subjective, of course.

If you go purely on numbers, then England’s greatest is Sir Alastair Cook – for now, at least, with it looking inevitable that Root will eventually surpass Cook’s record of 12,472 Test runs. “Barring injury, he’ll go miles past it,” was Cook’s assessment when speaking to the BBC last week.

Root became the 14th player, and second from England, to 10,000 Test runs when he scored a second-innings ton during the first Test at Lord's

Root became the 14th player, and second from England, to 10,000 Test runs when he scored a second-innings ton during the first Test at Lord’s

If you go on game-changing destruction, then it’s Kevin Pietersen but if you are go on sheer unfettered class it has to be Root. His batting is balletic.

Root may go on to be regarded as England’s best full stop, but he has frequently been described as their best across all formats – for good reason. In ODI cricket, none of his countrymen can match his 16 hundreds, none top his international 50-over batting average of 51.33.

The one international format Root has been absent from recently, of course, is T20, due to a combination of England perhaps feeling he no longer gets in their power-packed first XI and the ECB wanting him to have breaks away from the game while he had the pressures of Test captaincy.

But with Root scoring so regularly, so freely and so inventively in the Test side, there must be the urge to get him back involved in the T20 set-up – in a sort of reverse Jos Buttler scenario – especially with Dawid Malan’s returns having diminished a little in the No 3 spot.

Root last played a T20 international for England in May 2019

Root last played a T20 international for England in May 2019

Any notion that the shortest format has left Root behind isn’t really standing up at the moment. For some, it never has. Remember, he was England’s leading run-scorer in the 2016 T20 World Cup in India, with two half-centuries and a strike-rate not too far removed from 150.

While England won’t want to do anything that risks damaging Root’s God-like Test batting, the need for him to rest is probably lessened now he no longer has the stresses of leading.

You can bet some opposition T20 bowlers will be hoping he is rested/not selected for the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.

That, however, is for another day. Test cricket remains Root’s principal domain for now and he remains its principal batter. Reverse-scooping world-class bowlers as he goes.

Watch the fifth and final day of the second LV= Insurance Test between England and New Zealand, at Trent Bridge, live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 10.15am on Tuesday.





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