Stats Analysis

Prolific Joe Root races to 10,000 Test runs in record time

Still only 31, he has a realistic shot at Sachin Tendulkar's all-time record for most runs in Tests

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
When Joe Root clipped Tim Southee for a couple in the 77th over of England's chase at Lord's, not only did he reach his 26th Test hundred, he also became only the 14th player to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket. The 10k milestone came in his 218th innings, which means there are nine others who have got there in fewer innings. The quickest is 195 innings - by three batters - while Steve Waugh's 244 is the slowest.
The fact that he made his debut early - when he was a couple of weeks short of his 22nd birthday - coupled with the amount of Test cricket England play, means that while others have reached the landmark in fewer innings, Root is the quickest to 10,000 runs in terms of time, and is the joint-youngest too. Alastair Cook, the only other Englishman on the list, was also 31 years and 157 days old when he reached the mark (though in terms of days, he was one day older).
Root's journey to the milestone has had its share of ups and downs, as is inevitable in a Test career which has lasted almost 10 years. Through the first five years of his career, he averaged a terrific 52.45, after 64 Tests. Then came the inevitable slump, as his average dropped to 39.70 over the next three years. In 33 Tests during that period, he managed only four hundreds; in fact, 2020 remains the only calendar year when he hasn't scored a century despite playing more than one Test.
Since 2021, though, the floodgates have opened again - 2192 runs in the last 21 Tests at 56.20. This, despite an underwhelming Ashes series in 2021-22, when he averaged only 32.20 in 10 innings. Even more impressive is his rate of scoring hundreds: nine in these 21 matches, which is an average of one every 2.3 Tests compared to his career average of one every 4.5.
The graph of Root's cumulative average after each Test brings out these ebbs and flows in his career. Leave aside the turbulence of his first 20 Tests, and his highest average was 57.11 after his 24th Test, in April 2015. In about four-and-a-half years, it had dipped by nearly 10 runs, to 47.35 after his 87th Test, against New Zealand in November 2019. The good news for his fans is that since then, the graph has been going in the right direction: the career average now stands at 49.57. If he gets out in both innings in the next Test, he needs to score 185 more runs for his average to touch 50 again.
Root is also the first among the current Fab Four to get to 10,000 runs. That, as mentioned earlier, is a function of the number of Tests England play: Kane Williamson has played only 87 Tests despite making his debut a couple of years before Root. Since Root's debut, England have played 120 Tests, compared with 79 by New Zealand, and 95 each by India and Australia.
Among these four, Root has the lowest average (though he is fast catching up with Kohli). However, Root's overseas average of 46.47 is second among these four, next only to Steven Smith's 57.06. Both Williamson (43.76) and Kohli (42.81) have poorer records when playing away from home. However, the home numbers for Root pale when compared to those of the other three: he averages 52.93, while the other three average more than 60.
Currently on 10,015 runs, Root is in 14th position in terms of overall Test aggregate, but he is on top among active players. The gap between him and Sachin Tendulkar is 5906 runs, which, given Root's average of around 1000 runs per year, is roughly six years worth of Test cricket. Considering Root's current form and the fact that he has recently been freed from the burden of captaincy, it is entirely possible that he makes a strong push for Tendulkar's record in the years to come.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats