Joe Root confident ‘significant shift’ in batting style will yield ‘big runs’ on New Zealand tour

Joe Root confident ‘significant shift’ in batting style will yield ‘big runs’ on New Zealand tour after working on technique with former club coach

  • Joe Root averaged just 32 across five Tests against Australia this summer
  • Root’s average since taking over captaincy has dipped from 53 to 41
  • The 28-year-old has worked with his Sheffield Collegiate coach on his technique
  • Root has also urged England to be more ‘attritional’ with the bat during tour
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In a part of the world where ‘significant shift’ normally refers to New Zealand’s wobbly tectonics, Joe Root has used the phrase to describe the progress he has made on his technique. For England’s Test team, the results could be seismic.

Much of the talk of a new era under coach Chris Silverwood has centred on a more grown-up approach from the top three. But if Root, back down at No 4 again for next week’s first Test at Mount Maunganui, can rediscover the priceless knack of ticking off Test hundreds, the batting line-up may well take care of itself.

England’s captain cut a distracted figure during the Ashes, when four half-centuries were offset by three ducks, and his series average of 32 was the width of the Tasman behind Steve Smith’s 110 for Australia. For the first time in his career, he failed to make a Test hundred in an English summer.

Joe Root has been working on a new batting style after enduring a difficult Ashes series

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Joe Root has been working on a new batting style after enduring a difficult Ashes series

Root hit four half centuries against Australia but was also dismissed for three ducks

Root hit four half centuries against Australia but was also dismissed for three ducks

Root hit four half centuries against Australia but was also dismissed for three ducks

Root scored an unbeaten 41 from 42 balls during a two-day practice game this week

Root scored an unbeaten 41 from 42 balls during a two-day practice game this week

Root scored an unbeaten 41 from 42 balls during a two-day practice game this week

But he insists his absence from England’s 3-2 Twenty20 win here has been put to good use. He spent time at home working with Josh Varley, the coach of his old club side Sheffield Collegiate, and sent video clips from his sessions to England batting coach Graham Thorpe.

‘I’ve done quite a lot of work on my batting over the last month and feel there’s been quite a significant shift in certain areas,’ he said. ‘I think when you’re not concerned about areas of your game, that unlocks a lot of things as well: you have the clarity and clear mind to just go and play.

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‘So hopefully that’ll play a big part starting from this series, and I can go and get some big runs.’

Root believes his new batting style could yield 'big runs' during tour of New Zealand

Root believes his new batting style could yield 'big runs' during tour of New Zealand

Root believes his new batting style could yield ‘big runs’ during tour of New Zealand

It is understood Root has been concentrating on his trigger movements – the small adjustments a batsman makes to feel comfortable at the point of delivery. Against Australia, he was bowled or lbw four times, caught in the cordon on four other occasions, and looked more vulnerable around off stump than he had for years.

If his time away from the international treadmill pays off, Root ought to be able to improve on his record since taking over the captaincy from Alastair Cook in 2017. In 33 Tests in charge, he averages below 41, which is 12 fewer than he did under Cook. Meanwhile, his world ranking of seventh – behind New Zealand’s Kane Williamson and Henry Nicholls, and only one place ahead of Tom Latham – is an insult to his talent.

Root says he's excited by Chris Silverwood's plans to take England forward over next two years
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Root says he's excited by Chris Silverwood's plans to take England forward over next two years

Root says he’s excited by Chris Silverwood’s plans to take England forward over next two years

Certainly, his unbeaten 41 off 42 balls during the two-day practice game here earlier in the week exuded much of his old fluency.

England picked Sam Curran ahead of Chris Woakes for Friday’s three-day game against New Zealand A at Cobham Oval – a clear indication that Curran will play at Mount Maunganui. There is precious little between the two, but it is understood Curran’s left-arm angle swung the decision, as well as his counter-attacking ability with the bat, and Woakes’s poor record overseas. 

Meanwhile, Root has urged his side to get better at winning away from home. Last winter, they followed a triumphant 3-0 whitewash in Sri Lanka with an anticlimactic 2-1 defeat in the West Indies. But Mount Maunganui will be the first of eight successive away Tests – two in New Zealand, four in South Africa and two back in Sri Lanka. And despite Root’s apparent fixation with the 2021-22 Ashes, regaining the urn will only be feasible if they have spent the previous two years improving their record abroad.

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‘We need to be prepared to play some attritional cricket at times,’ he said. ‘One thing New Zealand are very good at is they’re prepared to bat long, but also when they get their opportunities with the ball they take wickets.

‘When a new batter comes in they’ll jump on it. I think it’s an area we can get better at: maybe be a little more patient in terms of trying plans for longer and being more relentless.

‘Silvers and I are very much on the same page about how we take this team forward. We’ve made it clear to the group how we see that happening over the next couple of years, and that’s exciting.’

 

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