Before World Cup 2019 began, names of Virat Kohli, Jos Butler, Chris Gayle, and David Warner were doing the rounds as the batsmen who can have an impact in the tournament. Two weeks into the competition and it is England’s Joe Root who is leading the batting charts with 279 runs in 4 games at an average of 93 and with two hundred and one fifty.
After his unbeaten and match-winning hundred against the West Indies at Southampton, Root now has 3 World Cup hundreds – the most by an Englishman in the event. Quietly, thus, the unassuming Joe Root has already left his mark in the ongoing World Cup and the way things are placed, he is likely to become better as the tournament progresses.
Root wasn’t in the greatest of forms before the World Cup – he had managed just 354 runs in 11 ODIs at an average of 39.33 with one hundred and one fifty. It wasn’t sure that he would be England’s batting mainstay in the World Cup at home and the focus was more on the likes of Jos Butler, Eoin Morgan, and even Jason Roy.
But Root is not one to make a fuss. In all the impactful innings he has played so far in the tournament – 51 v South Africa, 107 v Pakistan and 100* v West Indies – he has looked stable and determined. His shots aren’t exotic or swashbuckling, and his innings won’t get the crowds cheering up and down from their seats. But he gets the job done, and that’s what matters the most.
Root’s role in this World Cup is that of a sheet anchor – he will stand like a rock, take the blows and ensure there are no unnecessary collapses. He is perhaps the most unattractive batsman in England’s glamorous lineup. But by the end of the tournament, he is likely to be probably its most important part.
It’s fascinating to note the amount of progress Joe Root has made. He made his ODI debut back in 2013. Back then, he wasn’t seen as someone special; although he did hit four fifties in his debut year. He had already established his name as a Test batsman in England’s batting unit by then but to be considered an ODI specialist was to be a tough job for young Root. He couldn’t smash sixes or play a whirlwind kind of a knock. But England needed a stable batsman in the middle for their ODI team back then, and Joe Root fit the bill.
2014 was the year of reckoning for Root as an ODI batsman as he smashed three hundred and three fifties and has never looked back ever since. Until the last game against the West Indies in the ongoing World Cup, Root has collected 5579 runs in 136 ODIs at a terrific average of 51.65 with 16 hundred and 31 fifties. These are stunning numbers, but unfortunately, they don’t get much recognition.
But this won’t bother Joe Root. He will quietly go about his business, in his unassuming ways, and keep scoring bucketful of runs for his team – like he is in World Cup 2019.