Joe Root has noticed a “significant shift” in the technical side of his batting and feels on the verge of a return to heavy run-scoring starting against New Zealand next week.
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The England captain experienced his first home summer without a Test century and endured three ducks in five innings as Australia’s impressive attack helped retain the Ashes with a 2-2 draw.
It raised the question of whether the weight of captaincy was affecting Root’s game and whether Chris Silverwood’s appointment as a more hands-on coach than his predecessor, Trevor Bayliss, may lead to more of the burden being lifted.
When this notion was put to Root before the first-class match against New Zealand A that begins in Whangarei.
A game for which Sam Curran is preferred to Chris Woakes as the third seamer in the XI – the right-hander instead pointed to technical flaws that have been addressed.
“I’ve done a lot of work on my batting and feel there’s been quite a significant shift in certain areas,” said Root.
When you are not concerned about areas of your game, that unlocks a lot of things as well. So hopefully that’ll play a big part, starting from this series, and then I can go and get some big runs.
Root has battled the ball coming into him in recent times and diagnosed a lack of fluidity in his trigger movement.
Before arriving on tour he faced a large number of throwdowns from Josh Varley, a close friend sending clips to the England batting coach, Graham Thorpe, for analysis.
The remedial work has been chiefly self-coached and Root was happy with his first hit on tour against the New Zealand XI when making a near run-a-ball 41 before retiring.
It helped that century for Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley laid a significant platform before his emergence.
Root knows that, as England’s premier batsman, his output in this series will be judged against his fellow captain, Kane Williamson.
Just as it was against Steve Smith during the Ashes, a head-to-head he barely came second in given the Australian’s celestial form. Gone is the talk of taking the attack to the opposition.
However, and instead Root, in line with Silverwood, is preaching a mantra of “patience and batting long” in what he expects to be an “attritional” series given the surfaces and the Kookaburra ball.
He described Silverwood’s promotion as a “little bit” like the start of a new era, and the coach has already made one significant policy change.
The final XI will be solely the domain of the captain and coach in the 48 hours before a Test. Ed Smith, the national selector, will attend a Lions camp in India rather than join this tour.
England test team captain Joe Root said, “Each player is on the same platform and knows what they need to do in that department.”
Much as he did at the end of the English summer, Root spoke of building a team to win back in the Ashes in Australia in 2021-22.
It feels a fair way away – 25 Tests, including four in South Africa, starting next month and five in India in early 2021. He believes he has the backing of the England order to plan a long‑term project.
As regards his place in England’s T20 team, which looks under threat before the World Cup next year given Dawid Malan’s emergence.
Root said, I know what I can offer the team and if there are guys coming in and performing that’s great for England cricket. I can only control the opportunities I’ll get to play.
I want to see England win and if I’m not part of that best team I’ll drive myself to improve and get in it. Ultimately, it’s about us winning World Cups.
If I’m not in the squad I’d like to think, without sounding arrogant, that we’re in a really good place and there are some really good batters in that team.
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