England in India 2012-13

Root role revives childhood memories

David Hopps

January 12, 2013

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A

Joe Root bowled a nine-over spell in Rajkot, India v England, 1st ODI, Rajkot, January 11, 2013
Joe Root's offspin was a bonus for Alastair Cook and something he has been working on © BCCI
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Joe Root's debut winter with England could not have turned out more strangely. If his first Test appearance might have been designed for him as he had licence to bat as cautiously as he liked, his one-day debut was quite different as he found himself asked to provide a crucial role with the ball.

Root has not been more valued for his bowling since he was 12 years old, a slip of a lad experiencing his first taste of adult cricket at Sheffield Collegiate, and given a few overs of phantom seamers along the way, but that was his lot on his ODI debut against India in Rajkot as he did not bat and then bowled nine overs as England held on for a nine-run win.

"That probably hasn't happened since I was 10 or 11 years old, playing my first men's cricket," he confirmed, "but it was fantastic and I wouldn't change a thing."

That Root's bowling option might become useful, certainly in one-day cricket, has been apparent to all who have watched him at Yorkshire, but he has been used sparingly in county cricket for all that. He has taken only seven wickets for Yorkshire in his career and bowled only 80 overs, hardly the sort of grounding for a high-pressure one-day international.

In fact, he had become best known for Yorkshire's habit of giving him the first over in Friends Life t20 before whipping him off before opponents measured him up, a tactic largely designed to provide more bowling options later in the innings.

But Root did his England captain, Alastair Cook, proud. His first five overs cost 17, matching the success of Suresh Raina for India on a day when part-time spinners did well. In all, he conceded 51 from nine overs, a sound return in a match which yielded 644 runs on a flat pitch and glassy outfield. Strikingly, he was trusted to maintain control more than the more experienced Samit Patel.

He was scheduled to make his ODI debut against India in Rajkot at No 4, but he was slipped down the order to allow England's faster scorers to take charge of the closing overs and, as they posted a formidable 325 for 4, he never got to the crease. His claims are perhaps stronger for a Test batting place, but England's top six is not overly blessed with fill-in bowlers and his adaptability will not do his one-day chances any harm.

"I've been working hard on the bowling to give the captain as many options as possible," Root said. "The aim was that if I possibly had a chance to bowl I wouldn't disappoint and be consistent as possible. When you are playing in atmospheres like this - full houses. massive crowds screaming and you can't hear a thing out there - it's easy to get lost in the game. That's fantastic - quite relaxing actually."

Mushtaq Ahmed, England's spin-bowling coach, is building on the preliminary work carried out at Yorkshire. "I've been working really hard for a couple of years now and working here with Mushy," he said. "I need to make sure it is going to be a really big asset for me in the future and take any chances of having as many options as I can to give myself the best chance of selection."

It was all a different challenge from his unexpected Test debut in Nagpur in December. On a desperately slow pitch, and with England needing only to draw to win the series, he was preferred over the likes of his Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow and Middlesex's Eoin Morgan and made a technically-accomplished 73 in four-and-three-quarter hours which perfectly suited his side's needs.

His first Twenty20 appearance in another England win just before Christmas probably owed most to a short-handed squad as Bairstow left the tour early for personal reasons and he completed a hat-trick of debuts across all three formats in Rajkot, where he was once again part of a winning side. He must reflect on all the tales of England defeats in India and wonder about how well things are turning out.

"There are a few guys out here who have been on two tours before and not won a game, so I'm really pleased for those who have put all that hard work in and finally come up with a win. As for me, I'm still 22 years old and I just want to play as much as possible and take the opportunity if I get it."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 14, 2013, 12:04 GMT)

What has been impressive is that how Mushy Ahmed has been utilized, taken care and retained by ECB. Its common is Asia that thier legends and great cricketers are never utilized very well to groom youngsters, good to see Mushy gaining his own place and respect in the english set up.

Posted by Meety on (January 14, 2013, 3:54 GMT)

@ ashes61 on (January 12 2013, 18:53 PM GMT) - agreed with most of what you said until "...It's the lge which produced players who've made the Ashes rather a one-sided series & who make up the No 1 ODI side." - that would be the Currie Cup! You asked for it. @landl47 on (January 13 2013, 05:21 AM GMT) - I agree. He is a top young batting talent, but I doubt that he'll get away with 9 overs for 51 runs next time. Saw a bit of the game, & would say that KP is a much more reliable spin bowling option outside 20/20.

Posted by   on (January 13, 2013, 20:43 GMT)

@ Yorkshirematt Well Root's batting was never in question and now he has proved his worth as a spinner so all the credit to him! Every team needs a good all rounder and England just got one who will be heard of for a long time!

Posted by yorkshirematt on (January 13, 2013, 16:16 GMT)

@Harshad k Trivedi If someone had told the Headingley faithful last summer that Rooty would be being referred to as a "spinner" in 6 months time we'd have told them to jog off down Kirkstall Lane! While it is good that he has it in his locker, neither england nor Yorkshire should lose sight of from the fact that his job is to see off the new ball then get runs at the top of the order.

Posted by voma on (January 13, 2013, 15:54 GMT)

Well England need to bring in a new sixth batsman , if Roots part time spinbowling can be used in tests as wellas ODIs . Then thats great . Its a good time to be an England fan now .

Posted by   on (January 13, 2013, 15:33 GMT)

Its good to see good spinners coming from England and this lad does look like he is here to stay and define England's future. The main thing is the team has to trust in their players to give their best and that is what Indian Selectors and Dhoni are denying the promising players. You really need to be able to assess the quality of your players if you are a Selector or a Captain, otherwise you should not be there in that position.

Posted by bumsonseats on (January 13, 2013, 12:27 GMT)

perhaps bulling up his bowling at this stage by some is an over reaction. he looks to be a level headed young man and a good test player in the making. its always good for one of your top 5 to be able to chip in with 4/5 overs in odis and if conditions dictate a few more in tests. he got away with his bowling in the 1st odi but that could change in the next, but even so the indians are supposed to be the best players of spin, so the indian captains comments that his team should have won if they had played certain bowlers better is nonsense, as after a game most could say i only .if only did not happen and that been so, england deserved to win

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 13, 2013, 12:05 GMT)

@yorkshirematt & jmcilhinney: You're forgetting that Randy is constantly trying to escape the inescapable fact that the English Five year dominance over Australia is still going stronger than ever. He always brings a smile for that reason. :)

Posted by AjberTheGangulian on (January 13, 2013, 10:12 GMT)

He is really the next big thing

Posted by TripleCenturian on (January 13, 2013, 9:57 GMT)

At the start of 2012 not even the staunchest Yorkshire supporter would have had Root in our one day or T20 line ups but its obvious he is a thoughtful, intelligent and hard working cricketer who is prepared to listen and learn to improve. Few of Yorkshire and England's top six offer credible bowling options with too many of the batsmen not working on their bowling. Root is the exception but perhaps the reason Yorkshire under use him in this role is due to the presence of Rashid and Rafiq in the team so Root is third in the pecking order and Headingley in particular is hardly a spinners paradise. But if you tour India as a squad player for two months you may as well work on your spin bowling while you are there. It's obvious Cook will eventually become England's all time top run scorer but I would not bet against his eventual record being taken over by his opening partner in waiting. At some stage the Compton experiment will be consigned to the scrap heap and Root is ready to open

Posted by   on (January 13, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

Root has to cement his place as a batsman first, in India part time spinners often get success in limited overs, like we have seen yuvraj in WC 2011. I am pretty confident he will not bowl much in coming matches.

Posted by landl47 on (January 13, 2013, 5:21 GMT)

I'm happy for Root and Cook's gamble on him rather than the far more experienced Patel turned out to be fully justified, but let's not get carried away here. The 34 scored off Root's last 4 overs is much closer to what can usually be expected than the 17 off his first 5. If he can develop into a decent part-time spinner, like say Dilshan or David Hussey, then great, but he's either going to make it as a batsman or not at all. He certainly can't be relied on as a 5th bowler in ODIs at present.

He's a very promising young batsman and I hope he'll be a good test player in a couple of years. Don't put too much hope on his bowling being any more than a useful option in the right situation.

Posted by D-Ascendant on (January 13, 2013, 2:35 GMT)

A few days ago, MS Dhoni -- after a shock low-scoring win against Pakistan in Delhi -- revived his own childhood memories of an purer, more innocent time when he actually used to captain India to victory. "That probably hasn't happened since the year 2010 or 2011, when we played something akin to quality cricket," he confirmed, "but it was fantastic and I wouldn't change a thing." #sarcasm

Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 13, 2013, 1:30 GMT)

Part-time spinners often have a part to play in limited-overs cricket so it's not a huge surprise, but it is a little surprising that someone used so little at domestic level did so well at international level. Maybe Root's hard work has improved him as a bowler and Yorkshire would do well to use him more, or maybe he just had a good day on a surface that, while far from a spinners' paradise, may still have suited him more than Headingly. I doubt that Cook intended to give him 9 overs to begin with and I doubt that he will do this well consistently, but it's certainly good to have that extra option. You'd expect that his bowling was a significant factor in his being selected over Buttler. It's not a great sign that they didn't trust his batting enough to keep him at #4 but that may change after he's had a couple of innings. Will he be hoping that England lose early wickets next time so that his perhaps more considered approach is preferred to Morgan's and Patel's hitting ability? ;-)

Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 13, 2013, 0:26 GMT)

@RandyOZ on (January 12 2013, 17:54 PM GMT), is that the same County Championship where your claimed future Ashes stars, Hughes and Khawaja, could each only mange an average in the mid thirties, and that even in the second division for the Khawaja? Aren't those topping the batting charts domestically in Australia this summer? I guess that gives us a good indication of the relative merits of the first class system in the two countries.

Posted by Jaffa79 on (January 13, 2013, 0:07 GMT)

An important thing for England to have are batsmen that bowl. Trott bowls very little and KP's offies are probably a bit under used these days (anyone remember that huge turning ball that got out Clarke at Adelaide last Ashes?). Root could do a decent job if he continues to improve. When the Aussies were a force about 10-15 years ago they could call on the like of the Waugh brothers, Blewitt, Bevan and Lehman to bowl a few overs; It'd be good if we developed a few of these partnership breakers ourselves.

Posted by yorkshirematt on (January 13, 2013, 0:02 GMT)

@Randyoz he's from Sheffield in the People's Republic of Yorkshire. Does that count as english?

Posted by PACERONE on (January 12, 2013, 23:54 GMT)

Murali could return and cause havoc amongst the present crop of batsmen on any team.You do not have to be any good to get wickets as batsmen play the most unreliable strokes.Most have ore-determined what stroke they will play before the ball is bowled.This is more like BASEBALL.

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (January 12, 2013, 22:59 GMT)

I had not realised that Joe Root will captain the Lions in Australia. He will get a chance to make a real claim to an England place for next summer and have the chance to work on his bowling there.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 12, 2013, 22:07 GMT)

So, a potential all-rounder then? The only feasible reason I can think of as to why England don't pick more than 1 spinner for spin-friendly games is they're scared of losing batting depth.

Posted by skilebow on (January 12, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

Although I will just say that apart from Clarke there is not a single Aussie i rate a the moment. Stark looks decent but then he did play for Yorkshire and so some of the others talent must have rubbed off on him

Posted by skilebow on (January 12, 2013, 21:26 GMT)

As a proud member of "Gods own county" I've been watching him for a while and this lad has FEC (future england captain) written all over him But i think the media are doing him a disservice. If you have seen him bat in T20 he can play that way too. He reminds me a lot of Cook as in he bats in the way the match demands. Lets ignore RandyOZ..until of course we thrash them twice int eh next 12 months!

Posted by   on (January 12, 2013, 21:01 GMT)

Bairstow never even gets a mention these days. Could it be a susceptibility to spin - or some other reason? No doubt he & Root will be in the England side for some time to come eventually.

Posted by hhillbumper on (January 12, 2013, 20:47 GMT)

looking at world spinning options it seesm sad that Root is already better than anyone from Aus,NZ or South Africa.

Have been watching Lyon play and have to say he is world class.For an Aussie

Posted by mikey76 on (January 12, 2013, 20:04 GMT)

Looks like a really good prospect, his spin will be handy at test level more than anything, give Swann a break, stop him getting over bowled. Yorkshire are producing some good young cricketers. The county system is producing the goods, if the Aussie top 6 came and played in England they might be competitive. Lets hope guys like Ben Stokes, James Taylor and Akash Chopra get a taste of test cricket over the next 18 months. Use the strength in depth we have.

Posted by glance_to_leg on (January 12, 2013, 19:52 GMT)

Without mocking the Australian spinners (the ageing Hogg and Warne still look useful in the BBL, Zampa might one day be excellent if not ruined by too much T20, and, in fairness, Lyon, Beer, and Doherty would probably get regular cricket in the Lancashire League and the Minor Counties), I would like to congratulate RandyOZ for uniting the usually querulous and divided England supporters on this forum. And before he starts ranting, I am by his definition an Australian. That is I was born and spent my early life in Australia, but still feel thoroughly English (like, eg Dernbach, Strauss, and many of the other England players whom Australians mock as Saffer mercenaries).

Posted by bumsonseats on (January 12, 2013, 19:30 GMT)

ashes61 randy over in the uk at the moment doing bar work in earls court and doing undercover work for cricket australia. they have noticed his insight into england and want to tap in his cricketing knowledge about the english game as he has a comment on every england topic.

Posted by   on (January 12, 2013, 19:04 GMT)

RandyOZ, any div 1 side would beat any of your states. Players like Putland and Sayers playing for SA, no spinner would get a gig in England as well. No batting depth in any state. Your best spinner is Hoggy! Stop embarassing yourself.

Posted by ashes61 on (January 12, 2013, 18:53 GMT)

Actually RandyOz, it's the County Championship & has been for about 130 years, rather than the "English county league." Still, mustn't split hairs. Guess what? Over here we've been literally falling over ever since your posting, as it's the first recorded instance of a praise-worthy remark of yours for an ENG player & the shock has been immense. However, I'm not among those who take offence at your usual remarks as I think many of us would feel rather neglected without your daily tripe and wouldn't want to forego our regular entertainment if you or Jonesey ever ceased. Please continue - you're a national treasure over here. Oh, and by the way - d'you know a country with a stronger 1st class domestic lge competition than our "weak English county lge?" Doubt it, & nor do I. It's the lge which produced players who've made the Ashes rather a one-sided series & who make up the No 1 ODI side. It also honed KP, Trott & even Huss! Would Oz 1st XI beat a Co. Champ'ship 2nd XI these days? No.

Posted by richardror on (January 12, 2013, 18:49 GMT)

RandyOZ - The 12 year old Joe Root, as mentioned in the article, would walk into today's Australian side, if you look at the class of Root (he was no doubt a skilled 12 year old) and the class of Australian spinners. Australia seems to be choosing between spinners who wouldn't get into an English county side. Not to mention Root's 12 year old skill as a batsmen would undoubtedly show up batsmen such as Cowan and Quiney.

Posted by jackiethepen on (January 12, 2013, 18:17 GMT)

His bowling potential was spotted by Thorpe who is coaching the England Lions. In an interview recently Thorpe said that his spin bowling prowess should not be neglected.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 12, 2013, 17:54 GMT)

Root looks promising, and believe it or not (I would still like more evidence), he is actually English. Maybe the weak English county league is finally producing some value.

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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