Ashes 2017-18: England Skipper Joe Root’s Issue Of Converting Starts Continue


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England are seemingly on top of their trades in the fourth Test match against Australia at the MCG with a stupendous double century from Alastair Cook. But one issue that has once again bothered them is skipper Joe Root’s failure to convert starts into big scores.
The star batsman once again did all the hard work to build his innings with a lot of concentration, but in the end gifted his wicket while on 61. The England skipper is still in the hunt for a maiden Ashes ton this summer and has been limited to three half-centuries till now. A lapse of concentration did the player in to leave him furious while walking back to the pavilion.
The inability to score big tons have hurt his prospects often allowing the Aussies to stay in the game seen so often in this series. A mistimed pull shot off Pat Cummins on the first session of the third day, saw him offering a simple catch to Nathan Lyon. The off-spinner did not even have to move as he accepted a simple offer with a ploy that worked well for the Aussies.
Root has played some great shots in all of his three fifties and has timed the ball well to look comfortable at the crease, but then he suddenly throws it all away. A repeated offence that seemed to bother him this time. He started to walk off as he hit his shot knowing a seemingly end was on offer. Just as he approached the boundary ropes, he threw his gloves over it to highlight a sense of disgust.
Australia sensed they could trouble the next batsmen to follow and almost did that after reducing England to 307/6. But in the other end Cook defied the opponent’s hard work and scored an unbeaten 244 as he got help from Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad in stitching valuable partnerships to help his side get a 164-run lead.
This will help England to be more aggressive on the 4th day and put Australia in trouble. But if not for the heroics of Cook, they could have seen themselves in trouble once again. England’s tail has suffered a lot this series and their destructor Mitchell Starc’s absence at the MCG helped them massively.
Root knows he needs to be out there leading the batting by example and getting big scores. It is an issue the player needs to address largely. In seven innings across four Tests in Australia this summer, the 26-year-old has scored 15, 51, 9, 67, 20, 14 and 61. One would feel that a big score is underway and it is just matter of time before he gets cracking. But in the present scenario the set of scores will not please a player of his calibre.
Root has 13 centuries in Test cricket and is way behind Steve Smith and Virat Kohli in this regard. The duo have 22 and 21 tons respectively. Another player that is considered among these players in the Fab Four is Kane Williamson. He too has notched 17 tons to his name. Therefore it shows the issues Root is facing now despite having an average of 50+.
His conversion rate is poor as compared to the trio, who like Root are leading their respective teams in world cricket. In order to enjoy success in Tests away from home, Root needs big innings consistently by his side. They can therefore have a chance to build on from there.
The stage was set for Root here at the MCG when he commenced on an overnight score of 49*. But he managed too add just 12 runs. Australia on the other hand need to be credited for not letting him run away with big hundreds. Smith on the other hand has got two hundreds in the ongoing series and is the highest scorer too. May be it is time for Root to pick something from his counterpart’s hat and produce something extraordinary with his willow.
Brief Scores: England (1st Inns) 491/9 (Cook 244*, Root 61; Lyon 3/109) lead Australia by 164 runs at stumps on Day 3


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