Root the quiet shining light among England's batting bravado
- With Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan injured and unable to bat, Joe Root proved a quiet steadying influence for England against West Indies.
It was supposed to be the tournament for the entertainers to deliver a summer of sizzling sixes. Instead, it continues to be the quiet man from Sheffield who plots the way for England's potential success at the Cricket World Cup.
Joe Root added another century – this one unbeaten – to take his tally to 279 runs and make himself the leading scorer in the competition on his own terms.
Finessed strokes, dancing feet, precision play. In a team filled with bravado with the bat, it is a hark back to yesteryear that saw him become the first English player to hit three hundreds in World Cups.
"He is the glue that holds everything together," said captain Eoin Morgan after the eight-wicket triumph over West Indies at the Rose Bowl on Friday, an impressive chase of 213 completed with almost 17 overs remaining.
"He never seems to go at less than a run a ball. You look up, he is going at more than a run a ball and it is exceptional to watch, so to see him come out and be in this form is brilliant."
This is not just an individual endeavour, though; a third hundred partnership so far in the tournament delivered alongside emergency number three Chris Woakes, after an earlier 95-stand with Jonny Bairstow – having been forced to open the batting following Jason Roy's unfortunate injury.
West Indies bore the brunt on this occasion, as they've done on multiple occasions before. Root has four centuries against them in ODIs - no other England batsman has more than two.
"He's a quality player," reflected West Indies captain Jason Holder. "He got off to a really good start, kept up with the momentum and played really well. Credit must be given to him."
And Root continues to shine, when needed to, with the ball as well.
A pitch that surprised Morgan with the amount of spin on show saw him turn to Root's part-time off-breaks and the skipper was rewarded with two wickets, including the break-up of a major partnership.
"Typically he's got a golden arm and does take wickets, which is great," Morgan reflected with a smile that hid the pain of a back spasm that also forced him from the field.
"I kept speaking to Jos [Buttler] because I can't get an indication unless the ball beats the bat as to how much it's turning, but Jos kept saying, 'It is turning more than we think here, it might be worth a go.'
"So we spoke about it for a couple of overs and went with it for one, possibly two [overs], but he started brilliantly."
After a week of rain interruptions, the Cricket World Cup needed one of its shining lights to break through the gloom. And as the sun began to beat down on Hampshire, Root continued to leave his nation dreaming of maiden glory.Published 15 Jun 2019, 01:34 IST