Joe Root accepts he will never be the kind of batsman whose shots clears the stands like Chris Gayle’s, but has found other ways of pushing the boundaries in one-day cricket.
A total of 47 sixes were struck in the first two matches between England and the West Indies, with Monday’s washout in Grenada stalling the counter. Jamaican bruiser Gayle leads the way with 16 of them.
While Gayle’s exploits have seen him overtake Shahid Afridi as international cricket’s most prolific six-hitter, Root averages one every 3.1 ODIs and has not cleared the ropes in his last eight knocks. Instead he leans on precise placement, an aversion to dot balls and a relentless approach to running between the wickets to build pressure on opponents. The method works. A century in Bridgetown last week saw him become the fourth fastest player in history to reach 5,000 one-day runs, 21 innings ahead of Gayle, 19 in front of MS Dhoni and eight quicker than AB de Villiers.
Root may be the only member of England’s top seven whose strike-rate sits below 90, but his average of 51.87 leaves them all in the shade and none come close to his 14 hundreds.
“I’m quite settled in the way that I play,” said the Yorkshireman. “Just because I don’t hit as many sixes as others might do I still feel I can score as quickly.
“Everyone has their own style and way of going about things. I can’t hit it over the stands like Chris can consistently, not unless there is a gale-force wind and I’ve got a top edge off a 95mph bowler.
You have to play to your strengths and advantages. You’ve always got to look for ways to get better, but ultimately getting the best out of yourself is the main thing.Joe Root
“Having that understanding of your own game is important. Maybe I don’t hit four or five sixes every time I go out, but I like to feel I can strike at a similar sort of rate if I needed to.
“You have to play to your strengths and advantages. You’ve always got to look for ways to get better, but ultimately getting the best out of yourself is the main thing.”
England have won their last nine bilateral series in the 50-over format, a strong sequence interrupted by the one-off defeat to Scotland last June, and one they would like to extend in the Caribbean.
Centuries from Root and Jason Roy gave them a perfect start in the series opener, but the hosts hit back to level the score at 1-1 and will be buoyant when competition resumes in St George’s today, weather allowing. They have further bolstered their squad with the mercurial all-rounder Andre Russell, fresh from the Pakistan Super League and likely to take the place of Carlos Brathwaite for the last two matches.
“Andre has proved a really good performer in white-ball cricket for the West Indies and obviously has a lot of experience of Twenty20 around the world,” said Root.
“He’s performed exceptionally well wherever he’s been, so he’ll add a lot to their squad.”
England expect to have Ben Stokes fit again after a minor ankle injury that would have ruled him out of the previous match had it gone ahead, but will not take any undue risks if the issue remains.
Consideration will also be given to handing Joe Denly or David Willey their first action of the series, with head coach Trevor Bayliss admitting he wants his entire group to be sharp ahead the World Cup.
Fourth ODI, Barbados (starts 1.30pm GMT):
West Indies (possible): J Campbell, C Gayle, S Hope (wkt), D Bravo, S Hetmyer, J Holder (c), A Russell, A Nurse, S Cottrell, O Thomas, D Bishoo.
England (possible): J Roy, J Bairstow, J Root, E Morgan (c), B Stokes, J Buttler (wkt), M Ali, C Woakes, A Rashid, L Plunkett, M Wood.
Umpires: B Oxenford (Aus), G Brathwaite (WI).
Third umpire: P Wilson (Aus).
Match referee: A Pycroft (Zim).
Sophie Ecclestone has been ruled out of the remainder of England Women’s tour of India after breaking a bone in her right hand. Scans showed the left-arm spinner fractured a metacarpal in the warm-up ahead of Monday’s second one-day international.
According to the England and Wales Cricket Board, the 19-year-old will fly home and also miss the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka.
Her replacement is due to be announced after tomorrow’s third ODI in Mumbai.