Joe Root – The One-man army
Steve Smith has all the reasons to smile as Australia thumped England by 4-0 in the Ashes. He has scored 687 runs at an unreal average of 137.40, including three hundreds.
On the other hand, England skipper Joe Root has had an average series by his standards. He has made 378 runs at an average of 42, including five fifties. His run-tally is only behind Dawid Malan, England’s top run-getter, in the series by 5 runs.
It was a collective failure of England’s batting unit. Alastair Cook, England’s all-time highest run-getter has had a sorry series except for his marathon 244* at MCG. Jonny Bairstow has failed as well by scoring a solitary hundred. James Vince has shown promise but failed to score big and dismissed in the twenties often and Mark Stoneman’s story is no different.
On the contrary, Smith was ably supported by David Warner, Shaun Marsh, and Mitchell Marsh and Usman Khawaja. He has also had the advantage of playing at home.
Let us take a closer examination of the two captains’ performances:
Smith single-handedly won the match for Australia at the Gabba by scoring a patient 141*. He had twin failures at Adelaide, yet Australia won the match by 120 runs, thanks to an unbeaten hundred by Shaun Marsh.
The Australian skipper was back-to-his best at Waca by making a career-best 239. Mitchell Marsh joined the party by scoring a wonderful ton (181).
He made 76 in the first innings at MCG while Warner scored an entertaining hundred. Warner made a sedate 86 in the second innings and Smith did the rest by scoring an unbeaten 102.
In the final Test at SCG, the world No.1 Test player played another significant knock by making 83. All Australian top-order batsmen made fifty-plus scores in the match barring Cameron Bancroft. As a result, the Kangaroos won the match by an innings and 123 runs.
Root failed in the first innings of the Ashes at the Gabba and in the second innings, he scored 51. All other England batsman failed to cross fifty. The story was no different in the second innings at Adelaide. Although he made 67, the next highest individual contribution was only 36.
The England skipper couldn’t make any substantial contribution in the third Test in Perth. He had an excellent chance of making a big ton at the MCG as Cook was rock solid at the other end. Cook went on to make a marathon 244, however, Root was dismissed for 61.
In the fifth and final Test at SCG, the Yorkshire batsman top-scored for the visitors in both innings by making 83 and 58. He tried his best by battling dehydration and gastroenteritis in the second innings. His innings lasted 167 balls and unfortunately for England, he couldn’t come out to bat after lunch. Once again, no England batsmen crossed fifty barring Root.
Smith has performed exceedingly well and he is in the form of his life. However, Root hasn’t done badly either. On most occasions, he ran out of partners and waged a lone battle.
True that the England middle-order batsman has failed to convert his fifties into hundreds. Had he got support from the other end, he could have converted his fifties into big hundreds.