Joe Root was out playing an ugly shot to Ravichandran Ashwin as England slumped to a 106-run defeat against India in the second Test match in Visakhapatnam on Monday
Sir Alastair Cook thinks Joe Root’s ugly dismissal in England’s defeat against India shows he is guilty of trying too hard to fit into the Bazball style.
India levelled the Test series at 1-1 in Visakhapatnam after bowling England out for 292 in pursuit of 399 to win. Zak Crawley top-scored with 73, but no other player made more than 36 as the hosts chipped away with regular wickets.
Root played an eye-catching innings, hitting two boundaries from reverse-sweeps inside his first three balls from Ravichandran Ashwin before clubbing Axar Patel for six down the ground. But he was out for 16 off 10 balls when he skied an ugly heave off Ashwin to be easily caught off the edge, leaving England 154-4.
Root now has scored just 52 runs in four innings at an average of 13 from the first two Tests and his former team-mate Cook thinks he might know why. “He’s England’s best batsman there’s ever been in all formats – but he does struggle sometimes with the tempo of this Bazball era,” Cook said on TNT Sports.
“He sees all these other people playing these aggressive shots, which suit their style. Rooty has got 11,500 Test runs, he’s brilliant, but he’s so desperate to fit in to what Ben [Stokes] and Brendon [McCullum] are doing that sometimes I don’t think he gets his balance of attack and defence right.
“He was on 16 off nine balls and he doesn’t normally strike at that rate – he’s normally striking at 75 to 80, which is still incredibly high for a Test match strike-rate, with zero risk.
“That’s when I love watching Joe Root bat. When he gets in, you call it early – I’ve called it early a few times on sub-continent days: he’s on 15 but he’s getting a hundred here. He’s going to milk them at his will, sweeps, all in control. I don’t think today he was in that control.”
Root sustained an injury to his right little finger while fielding on day three and it was unclear whether his ultra-attacking approach was influenced by that. Nevertheless, his mow across the line while coming down the pitch against a bowler of Ashwin’s stature was not pretty.
“What Bazball is supposed to be about is playing your natural game,” ex-England bowler Darren Gough said on talkSPORT. “But to add to it, to play with freedom. Don’t be afraid to play your natural game in the middle, like you would be in the nets. That was just reckless from one of the top three batters in the world. He will regret that.”
Stokes was also guilty of sloppy cricket, being run out by Shreyas Iyer while jogging a tight single, but ultimately it was Jasprit Bumrah’s nine wickets and Yashasvi Jaiswal’s 209 in the first innings and Shubman Gill’s 104 in the second which made the difference.
England now have a 10-day break until the third Test starts in Rajkot on February 15. Root is known for his diligent preparation in the nets, so is likely to spend that time working hard on his game, which has seen him follow in Cook’s footsteps to become only the second Englishman to pass 1,000 Test runs in India.