Invitational XI v England XI, Tour match, SCG

Root relaxed about return to No. 6

Daniel Brettig

November 16, 2013

Comments: 7 | Text size: A | A

Joe Root pushes one to the off side, Australia A v England, Hobart, 4th day, November 9, 2013
Joe Root is set to resume a middle-order posting during the Ashes in Australia © Getty Images
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Unfussy, unfazed and uninterested in speculating, England No. 6 Joe Root sounds a lot like England opener Joe Root did during the northern summer. However the captain, Alastair Cook, and the team director, Andy Flower, will be hoping for a decidedly different outcome in terms of runs scored and partnerships established, having sent the young Yorkshireman down the order and replaced him with the older Michael Carberry.

Root made 75 in his first extended innings in the new role during the tourists' seven-wicket victory over an Invitational XI at the SCG and, according to most observers, looked the part. These included the former Australia Test opener Ed Cowan, who reckoned that Root will be better for the "baptism of fire" he received at the hands of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and others in the earlier Ashes bout. Root, who will not admit to any pangs of irritation about the move, agrees.

"I'm not that egotistical really, I just want to represent England," Root said. "To get the opportunity to do that down the order is a different challenge to last summer but one that I'm really looking forward to. The basics are pretty similar, there's still a guy 22 yards away bowling a ball at you. You just need to make sure you manage the situation well and try to score as many runs as possible.

"I definitely learned a lot from [opening], I've got a lot of things out of it, and parts of my game I've worked hard on from last summer. Hopefully I can keep improving on those and become a better player for it. This week was about getting used to the role again, getting out there and trying to score runs and make sure my game's in good order."

Carberry concluded a persuasive trio of matches by punching his way to 50 in England's successful chase on the final afternoon. If he looked ungainly at times against the legspin of James Muirhead, there was solace in the thought that it is pace rather than wrist spin that will provide the greater challenge in Brisbane.

"If you look at Michael Carberry's tour so far he's played exceptionally well and scored a huge amount of runs," Root said. "It's hard to ignore that and it's great to see, everyone putting on strong performances and putting us in a good position going into next week. He's a very experienced player, he's very relaxed, a calming influence and he knows his game really well. As far as the team's concerned it's very exciting.

"A lot of the lads have got some big scores with the bat and especially this week bowlers have done well, picking up wickets and bowling good spells in partnerships. Everyone's in good spirits, we won as well, which is important to take that momentum into next week and hopefully we can start the series with a bang."

The only moment of worry for Root in Sydney was when the left-arm seamer Josh Lalor struck him a painful blow on the little finger, a digit already strapped due to an injury sustained before the previous Ashes series. X-rays came back clear and Root felt sure his hand would not discomfort him too much in Brisbane, even if it does not look a picture of health.

"I've got a bit of a plastic hand at the minute, made of bandages, but I'll be absolutely fine," he said. "It's something I did last summer and managed to play through it all summer, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue. It did for a little bit, every time you get hit you worry about it slightly, but I had an X-ray and everything's fine."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by CodandChips on (November 17, 2013, 9:51 GMT)

@Lmaotsetung agreed. But I'm not sure they would have said no to Carberry after scoring those runs though. He would have still played the first warm up where he scored 70 because of Cook's back, meriting another game where he scored 150. Would England have still said no?

Posted by skilebow on (November 17, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

@ landl47 - They should bat well together, they've grown up together!

Posted by KARNAWAT33 on (November 17, 2013, 5:59 GMT)

Who won't be relaxed? The prospect of facing juicy NATHAN LYON delicacies while batting at 6 instead of Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle running into you with a new cherry, will always fascinate a batsman, not intimidate him. And 99 times out of 100 the batsman will come out on top. (The lone time he might get run out to a brilliant piece of work in the field by David Warner!)

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (November 17, 2013, 3:29 GMT)

Guys, can't point out enough that this switch is more about England's lack of a consistent #6 than Root's average showing opening the inning in the last Ashes. If say Bairstow had grab the #6 spot with both hands, Root would be opening instead of Carberry.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (November 16, 2013, 19:15 GMT)

Root may very well open in county cricket, but in tests I've always thought he looked best in the middle order. Yes he's young and time is on his side, and I can only see him getting better and better; but choosing big series like the Ashes to use him as an opener was not smart management in my opinion - especially when there were other options like Compton available. Bell and Root down together in the middle could make a formidable and exciting partnership. Bairstow has done little wrong, but if Prior stays fit I see him [Bairstow] spending much of the series on the sidelines I'm afraid.

Posted by CodandChips on (November 16, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

@landl47 you make a good point. I think that Root will benefit hugely playing alongside Cook, Pietersen, Trott & Bell. He will be able to learn a lot off of them, and they will relieve any potential pressure from him.

Posted by landl47 on (November 16, 2013, 12:48 GMT)

Root looked fluent and well-balanced in this game and wasn't troubled by any of the bowlers until he got out having a hit late in the innings. It was good to see him putting on 100 with Bairstow. I like the look of those two at 6 and 7, they bat well together. With Bell in superlative form at #5, the middle order seems to be in good shape.

It's hard to remember that Root is still only 22 and has a lot to learn; he's probably 5 years away from his peak. With his great work ethic and a good temperament, he could be at the beginning of a fine career.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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