PAUL NEWMAN: Sir Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen are greats but Joe Root has to be England’s No 1 batsman in the modern era… he’s become so masterful and could threaten Sachin Tendulkar’s world record
- Joe Root, Sir Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen are modern England greats
- But it is hard to look past Root as the best after his 26th Test hundred on Sunday
- He makes compiling runs look effortless in an orthodox and textbook manner
- India great Sachin Tendulkar’s world record of 15,921 could come under threat
It was a question, posed after the Lord’s Test by ESPNcricinfo on social media, that does not have a definitive answer. You can pick only one, said the website, alongside pictures of Joe Root, Sir Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen.
If we are talking about the greatest England batsman of all time, then my vote still goes to Graham Gooch — although that might be influenced by my more impressionable age when the Essex master was setting the standards in a career that lasted well into his 40s.
But if we are comparing the three modern greats, albeit very different players, then it is getting hard to look any further than the man who took his game to new levels in making his 26th Test hundred in a winning cause against New Zealand on Sunday.
It is getting hard to look any further than Joe Root as England’s greatest modern batsman
Sir Alastair Cook (left) and Kevin Pietersen (right) are also examples of modern greats
Interestingly, all three had plenty of support in the comments underneath the Twitter post but surely now, if we are looking for the best man in all formats, situations and conditions, Root has to be the No 1 choice.
How masterful Root has become, how effortless he makes the business of compiling hundreds look and how orthodox and textbook he is, too, in this age of funky techniques and an unfathomable trend for taking guard outside off-stump and well down the crease.
And how easy it is to forget that, for a three-year period early in his captaincy, Root looked like becoming an unfulfilled talent slipping further and further behind the other members of the ‘Big Four’ in Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson.
Root had no problem in reaching 50 between the start of 2018 and the beginning of 2021 but he failed to convert into three figures far too regularly to be thought of as great.
If we are talking about the greatest England batsman, then my vote still goes to Graham Gooch
Root makes compiling runs look effortless and he does it in an orthodox and textbook manner
But since the start of last year he has reached 50 an impressive 13 times — turning nine into hundreds, making two double hundreds and two more in excess of 180. Root has moved way beyond the other big batters, as should be reflected today when the ICC update their world rankings.
When asked about Root on the BBC at the weekend Cook firstly, with tongue very much in cheek, pointed out he had to make his runs against the new ball. But then, more seriously, Cook said that a man who reached 10,000 Test runs on Sunday would have no problem passing his England record of 12,472.
Root should not stop there and even Sachin Tendulkar’s world record of 15,921 could come under threat, as long as Root avoids serious injury and does not do anything silly like put his name down for the IPL.
It should not take too long before there is only one answer to that big question.
And even Gooch might have to take a back seat to Root.
Even Sachin Tendulkar’s world record of 15,921 could come under threat from Root
ICC chief so wrong about women’s game
Another big question was posed by Simon Mann of Test Match Special during a revealing interview with ICC chairman Greg Barclay during last Friday’s play in the first Test. It concerned the future of women’s Test cricket and drew the following response.
‘If you look at it strategically there’s no doubt white-ball cricket is the future,’ Barclay said of the women’s game. ‘To play Test cricket you have to have domestic structures that allow you to play long-form cricket and they don’t really exist. So I don’t see women’s Test or long-form cricket evolving at any speed at all.
‘That’s not to say those countries that play it can’t continue to do so but I don’t see it being a part of the landscape moving forward to any great extent at all.’
How thoroughly depressing and deflating for those women who crave the opportunity to play more Test cricket. And over five days, too, rather than the current four, especially after the spectacle of England’s thrilling draw in Australia earlier this year.
England’s one-off Test against South Africa at Taunton later this month should be the highlight of the women’s calendar and will be considered as such by the bulk of the players. More of it is needed worldwide and it is up to the ICC to promote it, not write it off.
Greg Barclay’s comments about the future of women’s Tests were thoroughly depressing
We have seen the early stages of the Vitality Blast undermined this year, as we all knew it would be, by the ECB’s obsession with ensuring the Hundred is a success.
Now comes a suggestion that next year’s Ashes could be over by the start of August and include only two Tests during school holidays to preserve a white-ball window in the peak summer month.
It is said it will allow the England team to have more time to prepare for their defence of the 50-over World Cup later next year but the Hundred will remain in August and more and more it appears nothing is going to get in the way of the ECB’s unnecessary new toy.
And that seemingly now includes the Ashes, the jewel in the English cricketing crown.
Next year’s Ashes could be over by the start of August and include only two Tests during school holidays
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