No Ordinary Joe

First of all, apologies for not writing this sooner. I’ve been insanely busy with work. Fortunately, however, I wasn’t too busy to watch most of Joe Root’s magnificent century at Lord’s – his first in the 4th innings of a Test match. His CV is now pretty much complete. Only a hundred down under is missing now. Those nine fifties don’t quite cut it.

England’s splendid win against New Zealand wasn’t all thanks to Root – Ben Foakes also played an incredibly sensible and composed innings – but there’s no way England would’ve got close to their target without a decisive century from by far their best player. Root was simply magnificent – technically sound, mentally strong, and as composed as you like. Well, I guess he’s used to carrying the hopes of a cricketing nation entirely on his shoulders so it almost seemed routine.

There were other excellent performances from England players, of course. Predictably none of them were batsmen – the top order is still an absolute disaster – but there were definitely some positives with the ball. Matt Potts enjoyed an excellent debut, as many 80-84mph seamers have done at home in recent years, but there was something about his approach that suggests greater longevity than the likes of Toby Roland Jones.

Basically, Potts looks like the kind of bowler that makes things happen, whether that’s through enthusiasm, perseverance, or just force of personality. He’s also probably hits the bat harder than most medium-fast seamers. In fact, he reminds me of Tim Bresnan at his pomp down under in 2010/11.

Although I’m not as high on Potts as some – I’m not going to crown him as the next big thing after one appearance – he’s certainly a good addition to England’s battery of seamers. One does wonder, however, how the likes of Fisher and even Craig Overton might have looked in this game. It’s a much tougher gig bowling with the Kookaburra down under.

It was also heartwarming, of course, to see Anderson and Broad rightly restored to the England side. It was always madness to leave them out of the Windies series – I still have no idea what Andrew Strauss was thinking unless it was a dead cat strategy to deflect attention away from the crazy domestic schedule – so it was great to see the dynamic duo prove a point. Stuart Broad is always great entertainment and as for Jimmy Anderson, well, he’s just an artist. I never tire of watching him bowl.

The big question following the game is obviously whether this is the start of a brave new era under Affable Rob, Good Banter Baz, and (for the time being) Breath of Fresh Air Clare. Personally, I doubt it. Root won’t score a ton every game – although he’ll give it a damn good go – and the other batsmen looked poor. What’s more, England clearly benefitted, if we’re being honest, from the fact that New Zealand were a bowler down after Colin The Big Man’s injury. That won’t happen every time, either.

Having said that, we’ve been so short of success in recent times that it’s impossible not to get carried away after a good win. It felt really nice. What’s more, in Joe Root, we’ve got the best all-round batsman England have possessed in decades – probably since Boycott.

Personally, I think Root is even better than Kevin Pietersen because he’s more versatile. He doesn’t misread situations, play stupid shots, and then try to defend himself by reasoning “well, that’s the way I play”. Remember all those daft shots during KP’s next analysis slot on Sky. He talks a great game, and he was certainly a great cricketer, but he didn’t always bat as intelligently as he talks about batting now. Overall, Root is definitely the king. F**k me he’s good just ask me.

James Morgan


  • Told you England would probably win :) The next 2 tests will be telling

    Root looked imperious, surely only a matter of time till he has an average over 50 again, which has to be his benchmark, ideally nearer 52-53?

    A real pity CDG had one of those days that only Test cricket can deliver – funnily enough, I think he was NZ’s best chance to get Root, looking back at their history

  • Nothing much new learnt – England can win when Root makes runs and the ball jags sideways for 80-85mph bowlers. Relevance to constructing a team that might challenge in India or Australia is nil.

    I get that people feel starting to win at home again is a good thing after last summer. However it has to be understood NZ have gone backwards since then – they’ve lost Taylor, Watling and for this match Nicholls. Leaving out Wagner was a massive mistake. Williamson and Boult were badly undercooked coming back from injury. Of course the whole team were undercooked by modern scheduling (although the FCCC match was a welcome addition). I was looking back at NZ’s 1973 when NZ played so many warm-up games Glenn Turner could score a 1000 runs before the end of May. Turner is a strangely forgotten player, the only Kiwi to score 100 f/c 100s (nearly 3/4s for Worcester).

    Potts looked a good prospect although he could hardly have had more favourable circumstances. It was nice to see Foakes do well with the vultures circling.

    Some have been saying this was a very good match. I can’t see how a game over within 10 sessions and with spinners pretty much redundant can be said to be very good. The sides are quite evenly matched – both have some good players and a handful more than that but both also have some serious weaknesses. It’s a recipe for close games with patches of quality play but quite a bit of mediocrity as well.

  • Not much in the way of a sea change here though. We’re still persevering with players who consistently aren’t delivering. New Zealand will be better prepared next time but it’s difficult to see how we’re going to improve with the present line up. Anderson and Broad did their stuff and Root won us the game. Stokes st vitus dance against de Grandholme defied logic, positivity gone mad, with that no ball probably the game’s defining moment. Potts showed a deal of composure and intelligence but his lack of pace doesn’t bode well for success abroad and Foakes showed again how solid a bat he can be, a good thing with such a long tail. For me the greatest surprise was how little the New Zealand bowlers did in favourable conditions.
    Personally I’d prefer for the short term to go back to Burns and Vince for Crawley and Pope and maybe Billings for Bairstow. At least they know their game and what test cricket is about. Otherwise I hope Brooks gets a shot, as Pope at 3 is just ridiculous against a good new ball attack.

  • While so much credit has to go to Joe we must not forget that the partnership with Foakes made it possible. With four rabbits to come the game hung on the success of their partnership. The media always ignore that in cricket the game is played with someone at the other end.
    I think this nugget below tells us a lot about Baz or how to lose a game in one fortunately ignored brain fade.
    Accordingly to Stokes Baz had the great idea and preference to send out Broad to partner Root instead of Foakes. Broad would be asked to hit out and finish the game with a rapid 50 and it would “all be over”!!! That does explain to some extent Stokes’ crazy strokes. But thank goodness he stuck to Foakes.
    A good time to remember that Joe was stuck at some point for about an hour scoring about one run.
    I was there at Lords on the Saturday and it was riveting. There was a guy next to me who grumbled about Root and Foakes not intimidating the bowlers enough. Nice to see him proved wrong. Not getting out is pretty irritating to bowlers!
    The Broad moment was electric. But enthralling in a different way was the patience of Foakes who was also brilliant behind the stumps. The fielding on both sides was absolutely top notch. That’s not got mentioned. Can’t say I’ve seen so much intent in the field for a long time. Potts was so sharp and enthusiastic. A really good debut,

  • Hey James,
    Again you’re back with the best content
    He is back in full form.
    And at the same time the team is also going good at this trend.
    I think probably Team England will win this match against New Zealand.
    The best part is King Joe Root is showing the best performance in this test series.

  • Delighted that England won and my reaction has been to be thankful that we have had Root in recent seasons and to temporarily ignore the sorry reality that we are in the same place at the end of this Test as we were at the start, with the possible exception of Foakes who has, hopefully, cemented his position in the side.

    Root was an absolute delight, as he was at Lord’s last year, and is now probably the most complete England batsman that most of us have seen ‘live’. Sure, he hasn’t had to cope with the unrelenting torrent of pace faced by the likes of Gooch, Gower and Atherton, nor the guile of Warne and Murili, but you can only play what’s in front of you, and he is doing that with increasing authority.

    It occurred to me whilst watching him that I couldn’t think of an England batsman who gives so few chances,.No doubt Andy Zaltzman has some chances per 1000 runs algorithm that will prove me wrong, but that’s my subjective feel. Widening the net my guess would be that others high up in that table would be a decent smattering of Indians – probably headed by Dravid – Greenidge, Greg Chappell and Zaheer.

    • Hi John. I agree entirely. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Root would’ve struggled particularly (at least no more than anyone else) against those great fast bowlers. Whereas Alastair Cook, for example, often used to struggle against the very best fast bowlers (Ryan Harris being one example off the top of my head), Root has never looked particularly hurried or technically exposed against the few top class attacks that he’s faced. He’s made good runs against the likes of Steyn and Australia at home, whereas Cook only had one good Ashes series (in 2010/11 when Australia’s attack was at its lowest ebb for decades) out of the 7 or 8 he played in and never made a ton against Australia at home.

      Basically, I think Root is the complete player against all comers and in all conditions. His only slight weakness is against good 5th stump fast bowling on hard surfaces because he plays through point / gully a lot and can get in trouble behind the wicket. Of course, this area brings him lots of runs, too.

      • James, not for the first time, we could have a violent agreement about something cricket related !. I think what you say is spot on – he never looks hurried or technically exposed even against the best on offer even when, as he has for much of his career, he has had the burden of captaining a side which is not as good as the opposition. I think the common factor amongst the greats in most sports is that they always seem to have so much more time than anyone else, and that is certainly true of Root.. I too think he would have found a way of dealing with the greats of the past as so many in their different ways did. I have often said that Root is the sort of batsman you could watch all day. I had that pleasure at Lord’s last year, and it is one of the most enjoyable days of Test cricket I have ever had !

  • James- I am being wise after the fact but I think I it was a stroke of genius to leave drop Broad and Anderson for the WI tour. Those pitches broke our fast bowlers and could easily have been career-ending for those two. I started writing this tongue in cheek but the more I think about it the more I think this really could have been the case


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