England test captain wants to score the first ton of 2020 in the ODI series against the Proteas but knows that more important tests are ahead of us
Joe Root returns to England’s 50-over team against South Africa on Friday but his focus is firmly on 12 months and getting the ashes back in Australia.
Becoming the first captain in a century to lead England on two Ashes tours (the urn was not contested on Mike Brearley’s second tour in 1979-80), Root knows his legacy is based on what happens in Australia next year happens.
He lost 4-0 in Australia in 2017/18. Last year, at home, he drew 2-2, which was made difficult by the consumption of resources in winning the 50-Over World Championship.
Now test cricket is England’s top priority and three straight wins in a row, plus the appearance of younger players in Zak Crawley and Dom Sibley, have given Root confidence that his team is headed in the right direction.
Series of tests in the new year in Sri Lanka and India will present very different challenges, but should intensify them for the Australian tour.
It is crucial that Root has Ben Stokes by his side in Australia next year and a fast bowler in Jofra Archer who wins the match. While England has weaknesses in spin and the top spot against real pace in fast wickets has not yet been tested, Australia will fear Stokes and Archer for being able to win tests through inspiring personal performances. It was a different story in 2017-18 when Stokes was absent and the attack was limp compared to Australia.
« There’s no point in hiding from it or trying to make it seem like we’re not focusing too much on it because we are, » says Root.
“There has been a lot of thought and planning. But that doesn’t mean we don’t deal with what’s to come, and while there aren’t any similar conditions, some of the challenges we face this winter will benefit us when we go out at the Gabba.
« The guys are going to prepare for the golden opportunity. We have a good chance of preparing for it. Last time it was difficult with the World Cup. But this time there are no excuses. If you get it right, we could be in a really strong place by the time we go out there. ”
Root believes his captain has « changed a lot » since 2017/18 when Ricky Ponting described him as a « little boy » and told him to tighten up.
Excavations of former Australian players won’t bother him, but Root seems to have more control now and with Chris Silverwood he has identified a method of playing test cricket where he returns to values as old as he is the hills to build large sums of money and be patient. James Anderson and to a lesser extent Stuart Broad must be called prior to the Australian tour, and Root is still wrestling over how to get the most out of Archer.
« I was still grappling with the role at the time and had a pretty difficult year that may not have been reflected in the results but was trying to figure out what was best for me as a captain and what fit the team In terms of how we want to play, ”said Root about his last Ashes tour.
« For the past year and a half we’ve really settled on something that gives us something to withdraw to and compare with, rather than just thinking about the results all the time. « . We have seen good progress and it is being tested in Sri Lanka and India but this is exciting. If we keep improving it will be another string to our bow when it comes to Australia. ”
Root will face South Africa in Newlands instead of Dawid Malan at the ODI on Friday at three o’clock.
Malan’s continued excellence closes the door on Roots Twenty20 career for England, but he remains an integral part of the 50-over team, despite being a format that is currently at the bottom of England’s priorities.
Missing T20 forces cricket-mad Root at least to rest. This is a player who once loved to hit that he had a net on a street in Chennai because a storm ruined the practice area.
He now only has three games in the series to make his first international hundred by 2020. He’s had a lean summer and for England to win in Australia he has to score well.
« Over the past year I haven’t buckled my seatbelts the way I wanted them to – especially test cricket – but after that break I’ve looked at a number of things I need to work on. As always, you have Times when your game is being tested and you need to adjust and there I am now. ”
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Joe Root, England Cricket Team, The Ashes, One Day International, South Africa National Cricket Team, Australian Men’s Cricket Team, Kevin Pietersen, Switch Hit, Test Cricket
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