August 2, 2021

Joe Root’s Test innings: Six of the best

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Joe Root will become the 15th Englishman to play 100 Tests when he faces India in Chennai on Friday; the 30-year-old is fourth on list of his country’s all-time leading run scorers in Test cricket, behind only Sir Alastair Cook, Graham Gooch and Alec Stewart

By Ben Kosky

Last Updated: 02/02/21 5:07pm

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Watch the best moments from Joe Root’s double hundred in the recent Test series against Sri Lanka in Galle

Watch the best moments from Joe Root’s double hundred in the recent Test series against Sri Lanka in Galle

Joe Root will join an exclusive club when he leads his side out against India at Chennai from Friday – becoming only the 15th England player to win a century of Test caps.

Root has provided the backbone of England’s batting line-up for much of the eight years since his debut – including in Sri Lanka last month – and recently overtook David Gower to go fourth on the list of his country’s all-time Test run-scorers.

Having only just turned 30, there is no reason to doubt that the England skipper should go on to challenge Sir Alastair Cook’s record of 161 Test appearances – and perhaps even his runs tally.

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England opener Rory Burns says in-form captain Root leads by example with the way he wants his side to bat

England opener Rory Burns says in-form captain Root leads by example with the way he wants his side to bat

As Root prepares for his 100th Test, we look at six of his best innings from the previous 99…

HEADINGLEY, 2013 – 104 vs New Zealand

Despite England’s triumph in the first Test of the series at Lord’s, questions lingered as to the strength of their batting and those resurfaced in Leeds when New Zealand’s bowlers reduced the hosts to 67-3.

Enter a fresh-faced 22-year-old Yorkshireman, making only his sixth Test appearance. Root, having top-scored with 71 in England’s second innings at Lord’s, did so again on his home ground – but this time reaching three figures for the first time in international cricket.

Root’s fifth-wicket stand of 124 with another Yorkshire native, Jonny Bairstow, provided the platform for a strong total of 354 – enough of a platform for England to go on and clinch the match and series.

Root made his Ashes debut during the 2013-14 series Root made his Ashes debut during the 2013-14 series

Root made his Ashes debut during the 2013-14 series

It was also confirmation of Root’s arrival as a Test batsman, helping to ensure his name would be inked on the teamsheet for the Ashes series that followed later in the summer.

TRENT BRIDGE, 2014 – 154 not out vs India

India’s tail had wagged keenly at Trent Bridge, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami sharing a last-wicket century partnership to ensure the tourists posted a commanding total of 457.

But they were eclipsed by Root and James Anderson, who put together a world record 10th-wicket stand of 198 as England – at one stage in genuine danger of following on – secured a first-innings lead.

Root is hugged by James Anderson as he celebrates his Test hundred against India at Trent Bridge in 2014 Root is hugged by James Anderson as he celebrates his Test hundred against India at Trent Bridge in 2014

Root is hugged by James Anderson as he celebrates his Test hundred against India at Trent Bridge in 2014

Anderson enjoyed himself, striking 17 boundaries in a Test-best score of 81, but it was Root who held the innings together, occupying the crease for more than six and a half hours and ultimately enabling England to escape with a draw.

It underlined the right-hander’s growing maturity and the fact that, along with Cook and Ian Bell, he was already established as a key component of the Test batting unit.

GRENADA, 2015 – 182 not out vs West Indies

Despite having five Test hundreds to his name, Root had yet to prove he could do it away from home soil when England pitched up at St George’s for the second of their three-match series in the Caribbean.

He had looked in good touch during the drawn series opener in Antigua, scoring 83 and 59 – but his next innings was a masterful one, rattling along at a steady pace to finish unbeaten on 182.

Root after scoring 182 not out against West Indies in Grenada in 2015 Root after scoring 182 not out against West Indies in Grenada in 2015

Root after scoring 182 not out against West Indies in Grenada in 2015

With time lost to rain earlier in the Test, Root’s scoring rate proved significant as he shared a 165 fourth-wicket partnership with Gary Balance and then shepherded the tail to ensure England gain a substantial lead.

Root’s first century overseas, which took him past 2,000 Test runs, set up a nine-wicket win for the tourists – although West Indies did strike back in the next match to draw the series.

TRENT BRIDGE, 2015 – 130 vs Australia

Back in Nottingham the following summer, the undoubted highlight of the match for English cricket fans came in the first session, when Stuart Broad’s incredible figures of 8-15 bundled Australia out for a humiliating total of 60.

Root's century against Australia took him to the top of the ICC's Test batting rankings Root's century against Australia took him to the top of the ICC's Test batting rankings

Root’s century against Australia took him to the top of the ICC’s Test batting rankings

However, two early wickets for Mitchell Starc left the home side in danger of failing to fully capitalise on their early success until Root – in tandem with Bairstow once again – compiled a match-winning partnership of 173.

Not only did Root’s century ensure a formidable first-innings lead and ultimately set up an innings win that wrenched the Ashes from Australian hands, it also catapulted him to the top of the ICC Test rankings for the first time.

Root’s knock also made him the youngest English batsman to score three Ashes hundreds, having also reached three figures at Cardiff earlier in the series.

OLD TRAFFORD, 2016 – 254 vs Pakistan

After Pakistan’s 75-run success in the opening match of the series at Lord’s, the home side desperately needed an immediate confidence-booster – and they gained it through Root’s mammoth knock in Manchester.

Root hit his highest Test score of 254 against Pakistan at Old Trafford in 2016 Root hit his highest Test score of 254 against Pakistan at Old Trafford in 2016

Root hit his highest Test score of 254 against Pakistan at Old Trafford in 2016

Having added 195 for the second wicket with skipper Cook, Root also shared three-figure stands with Chris Woakes and – inevitably – Bairstow as England piled on the runs to amass 589-8 declared.

Root was eventually seventh out for 254, which remains his highest Test score but left him a tantalising two short of the record for an English batsman at Old Trafford, set 52 years earlier by Ken Barrington.

He added an undefeated 71 in the second innings, with England cruising to victory by 330 runs to level what developed into a see-saw series.

THE OVAL, 2018 – 125 vs India

It had been a relatively lean year for Root with the bat, prompting mutterings that his captaincy of the Test team might have had an adverse effect on his ability to churn out runs consistently at the top level.

Root (L) and Sir Alastair Cook (R) both made hundreds in the latter's farewell Test against India in 2018 Root (L) and Sir Alastair Cook (R) both made hundreds in the latter's farewell Test against India in 2018

Root (L) and Sir Alastair Cook (R) both made hundreds in the latter’s farewell Test against India in 2018

Root’s men had surrendered the Ashes meekly the previous winter and then fought out an uninspiring drawn series against Pakistan before rediscovering their rhythm later in the year to crush India 4-1.

But, while his team had improved, Root had not managed to post three figures in a Test since the previous summer – until the final match at The Oval, where the spotlight fell entirely on his predecessor, the retiring Cook.

The pair shared a partnership of 159 for the third wicket and, while Cook’s farewell hundred captured the headlines, Root’s knock of 125 set him up nicely for a more prolific winter in Sri Lanka and the Caribbean.