July 29, 2021

Root: England must relish India challenge

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England captain joins Nasser Hussain and Rob Key to reflect on his journey to 100 Test caps, from his debut tour in India in 2012 and first century in 2013, to the bumper year of cricket that faces his side in 2021 with series against India away and at home before the Ashes in Australia

Last Updated: 04/02/21 4:33pm

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Captain Joe Root tells Nasser Hussain and Rob Key on The Cricket Show that England should relish the chance to tackle India on their own patch

Captain Joe Root tells Nasser Hussain and Rob Key on The Cricket Show that England should relish the chance to tackle India on their own patch

Joe Root will go down in history as the 15th Englishman to win 100 caps for his country.

Ahead of the first Test against India, the England captain joined Sky Sports pundits Nasser Hussain and Rob Key on The Cricket Show to look back on his journey so far and ahead to the challenges to come.

You scored your first Test century, against New Zealand in 2013, in your sixth Test. How important was it?

Root: “It was special – I think the first one always is because it gives you a sense of belonging at that level and shows yourself more than anything that you can score runs in Test cricket and makes you feel like a Test player. I was in really good form for Yorkshire throughout the whole of the season beforehand and in the first Test I managed to pick up more runs.”

How did you learn to play against spin?

Root: “It’s something that on that first tour of India [in 2012/13] I learned a lot about, to be honest, with the likes of Mushy [Mushtaq Ahmed] as a coach and watching Kev [Kevin Pietersen] and Cooky [Alastair Cook] as senior players train, and then them spending time helping me learn how to play spin in the subcontinent was a real eye-opener for me. I’ve been trying to take that forward ever since then. I’ve learnt things myself as well – just having a better understanding of my own game; that’s given me real clarity about how I want to score runs in those sorts of conditions.”

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Michael Atherton looks back at England captain Joe Root’s excellent form in Sri Lanka and how there were shades of Kane Williamson in his batting

Michael Atherton looks back at England captain Joe Root’s excellent form in Sri Lanka and how there were shades of Kane Williamson in his batting

What’s your game-plan against slow bowling?

Root: “I think everyone is different first and foremost and that there’s no right or wrong way to play spin or bat. All I’m trying to do is avoid defending off the front foot or in that in-between length as much as possible. I’m either trying to get right out to it and play with an angled bat face so the ball is cushioned, and if I can’t get right out to the ball I’m trying to get back to give myself time to read it off the pitch, see how much it is going to spin and play it from there. Try to make it feel very difficult for the bowler to feel that they are in control.”

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England Batting Consultant Jonathan Trott says Joe Root is a ‘natural captain’ ahead of England’s Test series in India

England Batting Consultant Jonathan Trott says Joe Root is a ‘natural captain’ ahead of England’s Test series in India

How big a year is this for England?

Root: “These are the sort of years that every player wants to be a part of. It’s a great opportunity for the group to keep going on an upward curve and for the team to test ourselves against the best – not just in a one-off series but we’ve got three or four really big series where there is a lot riding on it. That’s what it’s all about. It’s going to be a bumper year for Test cricket, in particular, it’s really exciting that we are in the form that we are in right now and hopefully we can carry that forward.”

Is this series against India the biggest test for England?

Root: “I think so – in these conditions against a side in the form that they are in and with the record that they have at home; it’s going to be a big challenge for us. But we shouldn’t be scared of that – we should relish that opportunity, that challenge. We’re playing some really good cricket and coming off the back of a series win in Sri Lanka. We’re developing all the time and scoring big first-innings runs more consistently. We’ve got a lot better at taking 20 wickets outside of England. So if we can keep being smart about how we play our game and get the best out of the 11 guys out there we’ve got a chance.”

Follow over-by-over text commentary of the first Test between India and England on the Sky Sports App and skysports.com from 4am on Friday.