The Roar
The Roar


Poms defend Root amid furious reaction to 'stupidest shot in England Test cricket history' as Bazball under fire again

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17th February, 2024
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England opener Ben Duckett has jumped to the defence of Joe Root despite the Yorkshireman’s ugly dismissal that sparked an England batting collapse and left India in the driving seat in the third Test.

Root directed a reverse ramp he has made a specialty in the last couple of years straight into the slip cordon off India pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah as England crumbled from a competitive 2-224 to 319 all out and a first-innings deficit of 126 on Saturday. 

Ashes 2005-winning captain Michael Vaughan tweeted Root is ‘far too good to gift India such a cheap wicket’, although it is a shot he has used 22 times in the past, bringing 60 runs and one dismissal – including some notable sixes off Australian quicks Pat Cummins and Scott Boland during the 2023 Ashes.

Firing back at Piers Morgan’s defence of England’s Bazball tactics, Vaughan urged Root to take a leaf out of captain Ben Stokes’ book and ‘play the situation’.

The Telegraph chief cricket writer Scyld Berry was even more scathing, describing Root’s shot as ‘the worst, most stupid, shot in the history of England’s Test cricket’.

“Every run that India score in their second innings will be a torment, because he [Root] knows that he could still have been batting, had he not yielded to impulse,” Berry wrote.

“Never mind, for the moment, the team strategy of Bazball: what mattered was the situation of the game, the current circumstances, the here and now. And what Root did flew in the face of what everything dictated, as he himself realised in his moment of wisdom after the event, when he stomped off furious with himself.”


After India ended day three 322 ahead on a Rajkot pitch showing signs of sharp turn, Duckett argued the out-of-form Root, who is yet to pass 30 in five attempts in this series, was correct to go for it. 

“I’d be interested to know if those people were against it when he was doing it to Pat Cummins and hitting him for six in last summer’s Ashes,” Duckett said. “I’ve no words for it. 

“It’s the same as me playing a reverse sweep and getting caught at point. Options are practised and that shot has been very successful for him over the past year, so next time it may go over slip.” 

Duckett was seen off by a Kuldeep Yadav long hop after a majestic 153 off 151 balls while Ben Stokes, on his 100th Test, holed out to cow corner on 41 but Root’s downfall was the major talking point. 

India were effectively down to 10 men without Ravichandran Ashwin, who can only be replaced in the field and not as a batter or bowler following his overnight withdrawal because of a family emergency. 

But England lost their last five wickets in 38 balls before Yashasvi Jaiswal ground them into the dirt – despite their willingness in sapping heat – as India went to stumps on 2-196. 


Jaiswal followed up his sparkling double century in Visakhapatnam with 104 before retiring hurt with a sore back and Duckett believes the 22-year-old is taking his cues from England’s attacking style. 

“We saw it a bit in the summer and it’s quite exciting to see other players and other teams are also playing that aggressive style of cricket,” said Duckett. 

“He looks like a superstar in the making, unfortunately he’s in some very good form at the moment. He’s due a couple of low ones.”

Opener Yashasvi Jaiswal has smashed a rapid hundred before retiring hurt as India stretched their overall lead to 322 with eight wickets in hand to take control of the third Test against England.

The hosts are left with 10 players for the rest of the match after Ravichandran Ashwin withdrew on Friday night due to a family emergency.

But Mohammed Siraj (4-84) and Kuldeep Yadav (2-77) made up for the offspinner’s absence on Saturday as they combined to skittle out England – who had started the day on a solid 2-207 – for 319 in reply to India’s first innings 445.


India finished day three on 2-196 but Jaiswal, struggling with a back spasm, had to retire hurt after his scintillating 104, which included five sixes and nine fours.

But Shubman Gill was still going strong on 65 with nightwatchman Kuldeep on three at the other end.

“Since Ashwin is not available, the responsibility was on other bowlers to deliver,” Siraj said afterwards.

“Initially, they went after us but we waited for them to make mistakes and did not try anything extraordinary.”

There was no inkling of England’s batting meltdown when they resumed play with eight wickets left at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium.

For many it was Joe Root’s debatable reverse scoop when on 18 – attempted against India’s premier bowler Jasprit Bumrah – that shifted the momentum in the hosts’ favour.


Root has not been in great form in this series, and his lean run continued as Jaiswal took the tricky catch at second slip.

It was the ninth time in 21 Test innings that Root has fallen to his Indian nemesis.

Kuldeep bowled a terrific spell that had not just the English batters but even India wicketkeeper Dhruv Jurel guessing which way the ball would turn.

The left-arm wrist spinner trapped Jonny Bairstow lbw for a duck and was pleasantly surprised when his ordinary delivery ended Duckett’s blistering 153, which contained two sixes and 23 fours.

Spilled by Rohit in the slip before he completed 150, Duckett slapped a half-tracker from Kuldeep to Gill at cover.

England were pushed further on to the back foot after the lunch break when they lost two wickets in two balls.


Skipper Ben Stokes (41) slog-swept Ravindra Jadeja to Bumrah, while Ben Foakes (13) was snapped up at mid-on by Rohit.

Siraj (4-84) went on to york Rehan Ahmed and James Anderson as England gave up their last five wickets for a paltry 20 runs.

Root dismissed Rohit for 19 when India came out to bat in their second innings but Jaiswal tore into the England attack to swell India’s lead.

The left-hander brought up his hundred with a four off Mark Wood and then dropped his bat, removed his gloves and stood in the middle blowing kisses and looking skywards in celebration.

Gill brought up his fifty soon after that with a six off Wood as India threatened to bat England out of the contest.