After a mid-series scare England bounced back to win the fourth test before sealing the series at the Oval for a 4-1 series win. We take a look at the English team for their end of series report card:
Replacing Alastair Cook in 2017, Joe Root started his captaincy career with a bang, winning series against South Africa and West Indies.
He then lost two series, against Australia and New Zealand.
England’s batting order has been so poor that even Cook – England most prolific batsman – is no guarantee to feature in the team, while Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan are yet to establish themselves.
No.1 spinner Moeen Ali is no longer in the 16-man squad for the next series, as the bowling lacked the penetration to take all 20 wickets in away series.
So there’s a lot to get right to arrest this slide.
The two positive changes in the line-up has been promoting Root to number three and Jonny Bairstow to No.5. England now need to promote Jos Buttler, a game changer who can turn the tide of game in an hour.
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But Root hasn’t kicked on after getting fifties. So far in his career, he has 39 half centuries to 13 centuries, a conversion rate of 25 per cent – fewest among his contemporaries Virat Kohli (57%), Kane Williamson (41%) and Steven Smith (49%).
With Cook lacking form, the onus has been on Root to take up the challenge and score big, but despite seven half-centuries in Australia and New Zealand, he couldn’t record a ton – his highest score was 83 at MCG in a drawn Test.
It’s been a consistent problem of late – it took Root 50 Test innings to score his seventh Test hundred, but his next six tons required 74 innings.
Whether it’s a mental issue that has snowballed or the captaincy burden, Root needs to sort it out.
Perhaps promoting himself to No.3 would signal to the opposition Root is ready to take the bull by the horns.