Chennai, Jan 30 (IANS) Joe Root will become the 15th England cricketer to play 100 Test matches when he takes the field at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on February 5.
Among the batsmen considered the cream in contemporary cricket — Root, Virat Kohli (87), Steve Smith (77) and Kane Williamson (83), the England captain is the first to get 100 Tests.
Having played more Tests he is also the first to get past 8,000 runs among the four although unlike the other three his average in below 50.
Root will be England’s key in the forthcoming series. He showed the ability to play against spinners in the recent Test series in Sri Lanka, scoring 426 runs across two Tests, which included a double century and a score of 185.
“It is a great achievement, the longevity. You need a good sense of humour. He [Root] has had a lot of highs but there will be moments when you have lows. You have to show character and resilience, tinker technique. Playing 100 Tests is no mean feat. He has always remained humble. Great student,” said England batting coach Graham Thorpe, who also played 100 Test matches.
Root though had recently said that he doesn’t consider himself to be in the same league as Kohli, Smith and Williamson.
“You’re looking at three of the greatest players the game has seen. They’re three brilliant people to watch play and learn from. I’m not sure I’d put myself in their bracket, to be honest,” Joe Root told ESPNCricinfo recently.
However, if he leads England to even a draw in this series after racking up big scores he will surely be counted among that bracket of the top four batsmen.
Teammate and wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler on Saturday spoke on how crucial Root will be in India.
“Joe was in fantastic form in Sri Lanla. He has always had a brilliant game in playing spin bowling. One of the best exponents of sweeps shots which is obviously a big strength when playing against spin. It is obviously very hard to keep dot balls away. He has so many options to score. He scores quickly and rotates strike,” said Buttler.
“I think the biggest thing when he batted against Sri Lanka was that he showed great application. Mentally, tactically and physically batted for so long. That is a great place for him to be at the start of the year.”
Thorpe said that he remembers Root as someone who had tremendous worth ethic right from the start and has an urge to improve continuously. Thorpe has seen him from his younger days with the England Lions.
“What I saw with Joe – and I was fortunate enough to see some of his earlier games with Yorkshire – was character and temperament. He did play in the Lions early on. He had a great work ethic when I was around him. That’s what I saw when he was younger player. He has continued that throughout the years. Recently too, he is trying to get better,” said Thorpe.
The series against Sri Lanka earlier this month has given provided a glimmer of hope to him to work back among the elite batsmen.
Before the Sri Lanka tour, he had just one century in 17 Test matches since the start of the English summer in 2019.
Over the last three years he has averaged just over 42 which is lower than his career average of 49.39. And if the recent series against Sri Lanka is removed then the average in the period (since January 30, 2018) slips further to 37.89.
Root has found a new lifeline in the tour of Sri Lanka and he will hope to continue the rich vein of form on the current tour.