Aggression the Root cause of England's historic win

England's Joe Root lofting a ball during his match-winning innings of 83 against South Africa in the World Twenty20 game in Mumbai on Friday.
England's Joe Root lofting a ball during his match-winning innings of 83 against South Africa in the World Twenty20 game in Mumbai on Friday.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI • There was never doubt over Joe Root's class since his 2012 Test debut against India.

On Friday, his 83 led England to the highest-ever run chase in World Twenty20 history, after they laboured in the field as South Africa, one of the favourites for the tournament, racked up 229-4.

Not surprisingly, the 25-year-old Yorkshireman's latest heroics at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium have left many wondering if he is England's best-ever batsman across cricket's three formats.

He is among the rare breed of Twenty20 batsmen who do not sacrifice aesthetics to score freely, as evident in his magnificent innings in England's campaign-reviving two-wicket win over South Africa.

He bejewelled the knock with four sixes and six boundaries, but his fluency against a formidable attack was highlighted by the fact that he scored off 41 of the 44 deliveries he faced in Mumbai.

"He is the best England batsman across all forms of cricket... ever," former captain Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports after England's stirring victory.

"I know that is a big comment but can you name another batsman who could do what he does as well as him?

"He is our best player, a star, and will only get better. These are the best years of his life."

Root already has 17 international centuries to his name and averages almost 55 in Test cricket and 44-plus in one-day internationals.

Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell is impressed by the versatility of the player who, he is convinced, will soon take over the England captaincy.

"A good cricketer is a good cricketer (irrespective of the game's format)," he told ESPNCricinfo.

"If you tell him he has got five days to play, he'd play accordingly; 50 overs and he'd change a bit, 20 overs and he'll adapt again. That's Joe Root.

"He is not endowed with great power, so he stands deeper in his crease to get the ball short so he can bang it over the boundary.

"He's got a very good cricket brain. Some time pretty soon, he will make a very good captain of England," said Chappell.

Replying to South Africa's huge total, an explosive 43 off 16 balls by England opener Jason Roy gave them momentum and Root helped kick-start their World T20 campaign after an opening loss to the West Indies.

"The fact that we can pull off performances like that with the bat will give us a lot of confidence for the rest of this group stage and hopefully further on in the tournament," said Root.

"There is no better feeling than winning a game when you are up against it."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 20, 2016, with the headline 'Aggression the Root cause of England's historic win'. Print Edition | Subscribe