JOE ROOT admits he is savouring England’s white-ball dominance over Australia all the more after captaining his country to defeat in the Ashes.
Yorkshire’s Root led the tourists to a bruising 4-0 defeat in the Test series but since surrendering the urn he has personified a glaring shift in fortunes, coming to the fore in handsome one-day victories at the MCG and the Gabba.
After making 91 not out in the record chase in Melbourne, he was again unbeaten as England chased down 271 in Brisbane, hitting 46 as he and Chris Woakes (39no) sealed a four-wicket win with more than five overs remaining.
Root had earlier chipped in with 2-31 as Eoin Morgan’s inspired decision to use his occasional off-breaks for seven overs struck gold.
“It’s a lot nicer than the other way round, I’ll tell you that,” said Root of the changing momentum.
“It’s been a tough tour. There are quite a few guys who have been involved in the Tests and we now have a great opportunity to be really successful throughout this series.
I’m still going about my cricket in the same manner, the same determination and drive. I was desperate to win that Test series and I’m desperate to win this white-ball series.England and Yorkshire’s Joe Root
“I’m still going about my cricket in the same manner, the same determination and drive. I was desperate to win that Test series and I’m desperate to win this white-ball series.
“It wasn’t very pretty for me today, there wasn’t a lot of finesse and it wasn’t always nice and easy on the eye but it was about being there at the end and winning the game.”
Root is only one step up from an occasional bowler at the highest level but he has 43 international wickets across the three formats.
In taking the wickets of home captain Steve Smith and No 4 Travis Head, as well as keeping the rate in check throughout a disciplined spell, he put Australia under pressure and exposed their folly in dropping their own tweaker, Adam Zampa.
But he passed the credit to Morgan, who led his England selection for a record 70th time, eclipsing Alastair Cook as the most capped captain.
“He just turned to me to try and sneak a few extra overs in and it went a little better than we all anticipated,” said Root.
“That’s quite smart captaincy from him, to be able to juggle things round and make sure he had plenty of options at the death was crucial.”
Smith, a near untouchable presence during the Ashes, has cut a much more troubled figure since trading his whites for Australia’s all-yellow kit.
He has now overseen just one win in the last 10 ODIs and become just the second Australian captain to lose a limited-overs match to England at their Gabba fortress.
“It was frustrating... we got ourselves into a reasonable position with 11 overs to go and everything fell to pieces again,” he said.
“Getting to 270 isn’t good enough against a quality batting line-up like England.
“They outplayed us again in every facet of the game. The next game in Sydney is obviously a do-or-die clash for us and we have to come out and play some better one-day cricket.”
England, in fact, beat the hosts at their Brisbane stronghold for just the second time in limited-overs cricket and first since 1999.
Root produced a typically measured knock to see England past Australia’s 270-9 with 34 balls to spare, and Woakes can also be delighted with his evening’s work, following a tidy bowling stint with two run outs and 39 not out at the close.
Defeat was tough on Mitchell Starc, who steamed in to take four wickets in England’s 274-6, and Aaron Finch, who made it back-to-back centuries with a controlled 106, but neither could quibble with the eventual result.
Smith chose to bat first but, aside from Finch’s 114-ball hundred, Australia singularly under-delivered.
But while there was plenty to admire in his clarity and control – he offered one half-chance on 26 and was dropped on 60 – there was never any sense of him dominating proceedings.
Finch and Mitchell Marsh put on 85 off 94 balls but once Liam Plunkett made Finch his 100th ODI wicket, Australia buckled.
They lost six wickets for 62 in the last 11 overs, retreating instead accelerating.
In response, Jason Roy added just two to his record-breaking 180 from Melbourne before clipping Starc to mid-wicket.
Yet Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales responded with half-centuries, the Yorkshireman’s fluency, producing nine fours in 41 balls at the crease.
They fell within the space of eight balls but after Morgan was out for 21, Root found solid partners in Jos Buttler and Woakes to ease England to victory.