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Brave Root stands tall against onslaught

Joe Root led England to victory over South Africa. (AFP PHOTO / CARL COURT)
Roar Pro
9th December, 2013
17
3230 Reads

If there’s one positive that can be taken from England’s dismal showing in the 2013/14 Ashes series, it’s the steely resilience of baby-faced batsmen Joe Root.

The 22-year-old Yorkshireman stood up heroically to an Australian bowling onslaught, lead by the ruthless pace of Mitchell Johnson on day four of the second Ashes Test match in Adelaide.

Some critics have suggested that the England batsmen have been backing away from the sheer pace of Johnson in fear of having their heads taken off in the blazing Australian heat.

Not Joe Root.

Brave Joe stood up when it mattered most, displaying the fight of a proud Englishmen giving the fight back to the Aussies with the three lions roaring on his chest.

Root even managed a cheeky giggle at Johnson throughout their duel, which came to an end in an unlucky state for Root when he tickled an inside edge onto the thigh pad that bounced up and was well caught by Brad Haddin.

The Johnson that had just roared through the remainder of the England top order. The Johnson, who had for the whole of the Ashes series bruised, bullied and battered the England batsmen to a state of absolute mental depletion.

Johnson glared at Root, exchanging words after every ball, smoke snarling from his flaring nostrils.

And still, the young lad who resembled a quirky playground schoolboy, giggled.

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It was fascinating stuff, and it provided perhaps the most entertainment on a day that was, aside from Root’s bravery, completely one-sided.

Root was far from giggling nervously. The young lad showed no signs of anxiety within the fiery cauldron that the flat Adelaide wicket had become under Johnson’s command.

Root genuinely thought that his ability to blunt Johnson’s attack and leave him snarling was funny.

This wasn’t a frail young schoolboy afraid of his opposite, but a highly gifted Test batsman giving it as good as it got and backing down to no-one.

Root knew that he was winning the battle when Mitchell Johnson started chirping. The anger in the big Australians face was there for all to see, but Root remained completely focused despite his tendency to enjoy a cheeky giggle.

It was an innings that England fans needed to see. Jonny Bairstow has been given chances, but he has not yet looked capable of consistently performing for the English.

Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan are now preferred in shorter forms of the game, and the excellent Jonathan Trott has gone home.

England desperately needed someone to stand up in the number three position and Root did exactly that.

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This was only Root’s second half century since his masterful 180 against the Aussies at Lords during the previous Ashes series.

Despite the youngster falling short of what would have been a memorable century, he showed all the signs of an established Test batsman that is capable of turning up the quality anywhere in the England batting line-up for many years to come.

Perhaps it wasn’t a huge surprise that Root played Johnson better than any of his fellow batting colleagues. As a young player his reflexes should be sharp and his natural game suits fast bowlers like Johnson.

He plays naturally off the back foot and doesn’t look to hit the ball too hard. Something you definitely don’t need to do when facing the pace that Johnson has produced so far this series.

Root did become slightly worried when he began attempting to drive length balls through the off side. With every play-and-miss Johnson became more agitated, yet in the face of adversity Root remained calm.

Other Test cricketers of Root’s age would have been unable to stand up to a pace attack of Australia’s quality for this long.

The youngster’s patience under pressure and ability to pick his shots and not be tempted into the hasty pull or hook shot (unlike his colleagues) was commendable.

Root was playing so well that his wicket eventually came as a surprise. He could not be faulted for his means of dismissal, unlike many of the England batsmen.

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Root’s inning provides the England camp with some hope that they possess the quality to blunt the Australian pace attack.

Whilst Root’s effort ultimately had no effect on the game, it portrayed a sense of fight that England will look to take in to the third Test when they begin their fight back in Perth.