The Roar
The Roar


Root silences Bazball critics while returning to form with ton as England keep comeback series win hopes alive

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23rd February, 2024

Zak Crawley reckons there was never any doubt “phenomenal” Joe Root would return to form as the great batter’s England teammates hailed their centurion in India.

Root came into the fourth Test on Friday having not reached 30 in the series while a couple of uncharacteristic dismissals recently led to scrutiny on whether he should tailor his methods to fit the ‘Bazball’ philosophy. 

The argument has been Root does not need to alter his approach and he put his lean patch behind him with a more traditional Test innings to amass 106 not out as England went to stumps on 7-302 after the first day in Ranchi. 

The 33-year-old rescued England after they had slipped to 5-112 in a helter-skelter opening session on a cracked pitch and Crawley believes the Yorkshireman is the only batter who could have dug the tourists out of the fire. 

“He’s probably the only bloke in our team who could have done that knock, he’s that good and he’s stepped up when we needed him to,” Crawley said. 

“He’s a phenomenal player. We fully expected him to get a good score at some point in this series. He was due, he’s the best player we’ve ever had, and he played phenomenally. 

“We’re so happy for him and we never doubted him. If anything we know that when he’s got a couple of low scores he’s even more likely to get the big one, and we expected that from him. 


“He deserves everything he gets, he works so hard at his game and he always comes good.” 

Root’s 31st Test hundred – brought up off 219 balls, the slowest century by any England batter under the leadership of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum – was marked in understated fashion.

He kissed the badge on his helmet and raised his bat to teammates who were celebrating enthusiastically on the dressing-room balcony. 

There was no sign of the reverse ramp he had succumbed to in Rajkot, which proved a sliding doors moment in England’s heavy defeat as they went 2-1 down in the five-match serie.

Conventional and reverse sweeps were rare occurrences as Root proved unbreachable in defence, judicious off front and back foot and unfurled his customary late cuts and leg glances behind square.

Root had been averaging 12.83 through the first three matches. What was striking about Root’s 31st Test hundred, raised off 219 balls, was its orthodoxy following criticism for some unconventional dismissals recently.

These included his reverse ramp in Rajkot last week, a sliding doors moment in England slipping 2-1 down in the five-match series. 


Showing the virtue of patience here, Root has given England a fighting chance after Deep ensured the rested Jasprit Bumrah was not missed at first, exploiting the variable bounce that was a theme throughout the day, and some early movement. 

RANCHI, INDIA - FEBRUARY 23: England batsman Joe Root celebrates his century during day one of the 4th Test Match between India and England at JSCA International Stadium Complex on February 23, 2024 in Ranchi, India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Joe Root celebrates his century\. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Stokes had no hesitation in batting despite wariness what he called an “interesting” pitch.

What followed was a helter-skelter opening session as England went at 4.63 an over and lost five wickets, while two of India’s five reviews were successful.

Deep did not have long to wait for a maiden Test wicket, as a searching delivery nipped away and grazed Ben Duckett’s outside edge on 11. 

Ollie Pope lasted two deliveries as India overturned a not out lbw verdict.


Zak Crawley departed for a run-a-ball 42 when Deep’s in-ducker snaked through the gate and kissed the off bail, while Jonny Bairstow was lbw on review for 38 after missing a slog sweep off Ravichandran Ashwin.

The tourists’ cause worsened on the stroke of lunch when Stokes was lbw to an ankle-high shooter from Jadeja, the England captain throwing his head back and laughing ruefully as he began to trudge off before the umpire had raised his finger. 

A frenetic morning gave way to a sedate afternoon as Root and Foakes settled for steady accumulation.

Root went seamlessly to his first fifty in seven innings, after which Foakes accelerated by taking 18 off an Ashwin over, including a big blow over the leg-side for six.

Foakes fell three short of a fifty after tamely chipping to midwicket, ending a 113-run stand with Root, while Siraj had his second wicket by knocking back the off-stump of Tom Hartley for 13. 

Root shared an unbroken 57 with Ollie Robinson (31 not out).