England was going through a major setback as they brought in a new Captain, Coach, and Team Manager for their Test Team. The stories of the team changing its approach and going forward with a much more attacking attitude made a buzz. But in the first test against the Kiwis, after the changes took place, we saw a new face of an older problem. England may have won the test but who was the savior? The answer as always remains Joe Root. Will Change in Management Change England’s Reliance on Joe Root?
Joe Root recently reached a milestone as he finished 10000 runs in Tests. He has played very proficiently and has been consistent, losing his form just twice or thrice in almost a decade. There have been many changes since the time he started playing Test cricket. From playing under the captaincy of Alaister Cook to leading the English team himself, the man has shown pure class skills. He deserves all the praise in the world for everything he has achieved but this might have had an underlying reason behind it. The poor performance of the England team.
If we were to look at Joe Root’s personal batting record, we will find a bizarre pattern. His best performance has come in recent years when his team was performing at its worst. Last year England lost 9 Test matches, most of them were played at home. Since 2020, the team has not even won a single series. There are many reasons for this mishap but one of the most prominent is that they don’t have any consistent opening pair that has performed or helped win even a single match for the team. The burden then falls on the batter number three, Joe Root, the captain of the team. He may have not led the team from the front, but he led with an example. All the work was done by him and cricket being a team sport, it didn’t give the team the result they had wanted except for Root touching the extreme milestone.
This is a foundational problem. England might have changed their captain, who advocates mental health and has an aggressive approach to playing the game, or they have a coach who backs players and brings freshness to the team, they still lack quality opening batters who they dearly missed in the first test against Newzealand. They could have had Buttler, who is open to playing Test cricket and had a great run in IPL recently but he was not included in the team. Bairstow is a regular opener for franchisee cricket and even England’s ODI or but he bats at 4 or 5 in Tests. They only have young players who have not played much cricket at the international level. Such mismatch becomes a reason for England to suffer and bear the consequences of the problem either they are failing to recognize or taking too long to fix.
What can be done? It is a need of the hour for them to have a set of older experienced players who are courageous enough to open for them. They might have an exclusive team for ODIs and T20Is but if they improve their performance in Test cricket, they should treat it as a priority and have a few experienced players in the whites as well till the young members are experienced enough to face the new ball. Until then and beyond, we hope Root reaches new milestones and continue with his great performances to keep Test cricket alive.