Dropping Joe Root A Naïve Mistake To Make
The general feeling surrounding Joe Root’s omission from England’s final T20 match against India last week was due to a lack of form from England’s Test captain rather than not deserving his place in the side.
There have been a few, however, who have suggested that Root no longer fits into England’s t20 side; mostly due to his inability of being able to clear the ropes as often as England’s other power hitters. That argument is quite patronising to Joe Root, who has a T20I strike rate of 128.59 despite only hitting 16 maximums in 26 innings.
Root has often spoken about his struggle to hit sixes as easily as his teammates; but his other attributes are clear to see. His skill of rotating the strike and manipulating the field is as good as any player in the world. This is still a key skill in ODI’s and Root’s place in the side is under no threat at all. But the growing feeling is that rotating the strike is no longer a key attribute in t20 cricket and if anything a single can be considered as good or bad as a dot ball in the 50-over format.
Root’s slight demise in T20 cricket may well be down to the simple fact that he hasn’t played much of it. Just 11 T20s in the last 27 months means that the 27-year-old simply hasn’t been able to practise his skills as much as he would like.
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Root was very keen to play in the IPL earlier this year, but wasn’t picked up a franchise. It was extremely likely, however, that he would have been picked up in 2017. The 27-year-old had performed well in England’s white-ball series’ during their tour of India but due to the recent birth of his son he opted out of the auction.
Root’s importance in England’s T20 side was epitomised perfectly during the World Cup in 2016 where England were six balls away from becoming the first side to win the tournament twice in its short history. He finished as the third highest run scorer in the tournament including two vital fifties: one while anchoring a brilliant chase of 230 against South Africa; and another in the final when wickets were falling all around him.
It is easy to get caught into the euphoric appeal of T20 cricket in one off matches where the ability to hit sixes are all that counts to win a game. But for a World Cup England need players like Joe Root. It can take a long time to recover from being dropped – even for one single match.
England’s next T20 isn’t until 27th October in Colombo and thereafter will only play one more T20 in the Caribbean early next year. And with Ben Stokes returning to full fitness Root is looking more and more like the one who misses out from the T20 side. In an era where England have more destructive batsmen than they know what to do with, this would be an easy and naïve mistake for England to make.
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