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Root has own way of pushing boundaries in one-day game

UK & international sports | Published:

The England captain is not a big-hitter like Chris Gayle but is not short on success in the white-ball format.

Joe Root prefers the slow route to success in one-day games

Joe Root accepts he will never be the kind of batsman who clears the stands like Chris Gayle 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, and 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.

Chris Gayle tops the six-hitting charts in the series with England
Chris Gayle tops the six-hitting charts in the series with England (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

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 5000 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 the 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. Just because I don’t hit as many sixes as others might do, I still feel I can score as quickly,” he said.

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“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!

“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.”

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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 on Wednesday, weather allowing.

David Willey could get his chance before the end of the series
David Willey could get his chance before the end of the series (Danny Lawson/PA)

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 in the build-up to the World Cup.

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