Joe Root plays in Stokes, McCullum's instructions is a misconception: Atherton | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Joe Root plays under Ben Stokes and McCullum's instructions is a misconception: Mike Atherton

Feb 24, 2024 10:12 AM IST

Joe Root dug deep and batted patiently to not only signal a rerturn to form but also to bail England out of trouble in the 4th Test against India in Ranchi.

Former England captain Michael Atherton said there is a misconception that Joe Root plays attacking cricket based on the instructions of skipper Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum. Atherton said Root chose to adapt to the Bazball style because he wanted to, not because he was forced into it. Root coped with a lot of criticism for underperforming in the first three Tests of the series. The former England captain did not even get to a half-century and got out while playing uncharacteristic shots on a few occasions.

England's Joe Root celebrates his century on the first day of the fourth cricket test match vs India in Ranchi(AP)
England's Joe Root celebrates his century on the first day of the fourth cricket test match vs India in Ranchi(AP)

The reverse sweep that Root played to lose his wicket to Jasprit Bumrah in the third Test was termed as a turning point by many former cricketers. The modern-day great, however, displayed a totally different side of his, the one that made him one of the best players ever to tour India, in the fourth Test match in Ranchi. He ditched bazball, took his own time and played the ball on merit. And the results followed.

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Root hit his 10th century against India - the most - and his 31st overall in Test cricket to not only signal a welcome return to form but also bail England out of trouble.

India vs England Live Score 4th Test

"There is a misconception that Root has been playing the extrovert of late under instruction, but that is not the case. Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes are not prescriptive and the expansion of Root’s game has been self-driven, prompted by a desire to buy into a new era out of loyalty to Stokes as well as a desire not to miss out on the fun. But he is smart enough to know when a recalibration is needed; he knew that in Wellington and he knew it here," Atherton wrote in his column for The Times UK.

No scoops, reverse-scoops or reverse-sweeps for Joe Root

The former England captain highlighted the fact that Root did not play sweeps, reverse-sweeps and resorted to very few horizontal bat shots on a pitch that had variable bounce.

"So, as they might say in Yorkshire, there was nowt flashy to report. No scoops, reverse-scoops or reverse-sweeps, and very few horizontal bat shots, on a low-bounce pitch. Instead, his bat arrived to the ball is if on a plumb line, and his judgment of length to the spinners was impeccable. He responded to the situation rather than trying to force it — but controlled it, nonetheless."

England were 112 for 5 at one stage, losing half their side in the first session after opting to bat first. From there, Root got together with Ben Foakes and batted 20 overs of the second session, scoring just 49 runs. It was one of their slowest session but the only one they didn't lose a wicket in the entire session. Faokes (47) was dismissed after Tea and Tom Hartley got a jaffer from Mohammed Siraj but Root kept batting and batting, something he has done many times in the subcontinent.

He stitched another valuable partnership with Ollie Robinson to take England to 302/7 at stumps.

"This change in approach was not only because of what had happened in Rajkot, but because of how matters unfolded from the outset here as well. With everyone else misfiring, England needed the Atlas of old, carrying the team on his shoulders. Five wickets fell before lunch; no one else passed fifty and it is likely that the pitch will be at its best in the first half of the game. Runs, no matter how, were needed," Atherton said.

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