Root back into the rhythm in time

 – Gudstory

Root back into the rhythm in time – Gudstory

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Joe Root has returned to the rhythms of ODI cricket over the last 10 days. A month ago, he ended his series against New Zealand with 39 runs in four innings, but he started this tournament with scores of 77 and 82, becoming England’s highest run-scorer at the World Cup in the process.

Root looked badly out of form at the end of the domestic season. He was so desperate for time in the middle that he took a short break to train with England’s second-tier side ahead of their series against Ireland, and would have played in the first ODI at Headingley had it not been for the rain.

However, he remained confident that he would be fine when it mattered – in large part due to his previous success on the subcontinent. He has now made five half-centuries in eight ODI innings in India, as well as averaging over 50 in both Tests and T20Is in the country.

He made 77 off 86 balls against New Zealand in Ahmedabad, anchoring the innings from number three as England lost regular wickets, and then had a platform to play more expansively against Bangladesh in Dharamsala. He made 82 off 68 adding 151 with Dawid Malan. His first boundary was a reverse-scoop six, but he was particularly dominant down the ground.

“I am enjoying playing cricket in India,” Root said on Saturday evening, ahead of England’s match against Afghanistan in Delhi. “It suits my game very well… It’s a nice thing to have as an asset when you come to a tournament like this: knowing you’ve done well before gives you a bit of confidence.”

Root has always thrived against spin, and has scored runs with the ball against spinners in this World Cup so far. “The way people go around here, [it’s about] “Finding different ways to maneuver the court and trying to rotate the putt…finding your boundary options, evaluating whether there’s a little less bounce or something.”

He found the series against New Zealand “frustrating” but, at 32, Root has seen enough quiet passages that he has retained his faith: “You want to have a lot of runs before that… but it’s about being there when it matters.” Essence Championship is when you need to deliver a real performance.

“When you get here and you have that championship mentality — ‘This is what it’s about, this is where you stand and perform’ — that’s a different frame of mind. That’s really helped me come out here, really focusing on what we’re doing.” It was good to contribute in the first two matches.

“When you play for a long period of time, you’ll always have clips of games when you’re not performing and you get a little bit of a lull. Can you be good enough to make that a very short period of time? “That’s the mentality you have to have if you’re “You want to stay here for a long time.”

And Root wants to be around for a while yet. England’s golden generation of white-ball players are now in their early to mid-30s and are expected to make sweeping changes after this tournament as they head towards the 2025 Champions Cup and 2027 World Cup after that.

Root will be 36 when the World Cup is held in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia, but he said: “I would love to go on safari; it would be nice to associate that with it. I would love to stay that way.” I will play in four years. The cricket landscape is changing forever, isn’t it? But I can’t see myself not being there unless I’m not good enough and players pass me by… I’ll be pushed around by [I retire]”.

If he plays for another four years, Root will overtake Eoin Morgan as England’s all-time leading goalscorer in this format; With as many as nine matches remaining in this World Cup, it is possible that he can score the 553 runs he needs to get through this tournament.

This status is unlikely to mean much to him. Root overtook Graham Gooch as England’s top run-scorer at the World Cup during his innings against Bangladesh, but said the achievement would mean nothing without another title.

“It would be great if we finally won the World Cup, because we had participated in two World Cups and I would be the top scorer,” Root said. “But it has to stand for something: the only way to do that is if we go on and win this thing, which is what we know we can do.”

Matt Roller is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98


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