Cricket World Cup 2019: Joe Root's simplicity over showmanship leaves England in good hands

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We’ve witnessed some interesting wicket celebrations over the years and a few have made an appearance at the Cricket World Cup as well.

Imran Tahir’s trademark dash into the distance comes to mind as does Hasan Ali’s ‘explosion’ celebration while Sheldon Cottrell’s military salute has turned a few heads as well.

In contrast, Joe Root‘s little jig with his index fingers pointing to the sky after dismissing Shimron Hetmeyer at the Rose Bowl on Friday lacked imagination and was a rather awkward visual experience.

A boyish grin plastered across the face of the part-timer salvaged it though – along with the fact that he’d disrupted what was an increasingly threatening partnership between Hetmeyer and Nicholas Pooran.

The celebration was compared to one of Ian Botham’s in his heyday, although England’s legendary all-rounder seemed to retain some authority in his execution.

But flash has never come easily to Root who has always valued effectiveness over extravagance and with great success. Indeed, his mic-drop celebration after hitting the winning runs to bring up his century and clinch a series win over India at Headingley last year is something he immediately regretted.

“I’ve not heard the end of it, it was literally the most embarrassing thing I’ve done on a cricket field,” Root has said of the incident.

His man-of-the-match display to lead England to an eight-wicket win over West Indies on Friday though deserved an iconic celebration that Root clearly can’t be trusted with delivering.

After picking up the scalp of Hetmeyer to derail West Indies, he claimed the prized wicket of Jason Holder, using excellent variation to complete another caught and bowled. His batting masterclass in the second innings was a memorable one, scoring an unbeaten 100 in 94 deliveries – although he couldn’t be bothered with including a six in it.

The fact that he notched up his second ton of the tournament – he’s now the only England batsman with three World Cup hundreds – while opening the innings for the first time in his ODI career made the knock all the more impressive. Injuries to skipper Eoin Morgan and opener Jason Roy meant Root was promoted up the order where he faced a barrage of bouncers with the new ball, a tactic the Windies were rewarded for earlier in the tournament against Pakistan.

However, it was his opening partner Jonny Bairstow who was a little worse for wear after an Andre Russell delivery decked him as it crashed into his helmet. Root on the other hand set the tone early, pulling Oshane Thomas crisply towards the square-leg boundary for his first four.

He barely put a foot wrong throughout his innings, ensuring his change in position didn’t effect his extraordinary consistency. They don’t come more dependable than Root. He picked up a crucial wicket just when England needed it most and did the business wat the crease when two huge injuries should’ve left the batting order in disarray.

With Roy and Morgan expected to miss out in coming games, Root will have to step up and deliver. Fortunately, that’s what he does best. In a team packed with stars, he’s one of the biggest but doesn’t tend to shine as brightly as the rest.

Make no mistake, he doesn’t exactly qualify as an unsung hero. A batsman of his calibre simply can’t be cast under a shadow, especially when he delivers match-winning performances with remarkable regularity. However, a distinct lack of showmanship does help him maintain a relatively low profile.

And to think in ODIs this year his average nearly matches Virat Kohli’s (52.75 to 54.69) while boasting a higher runs-per-over rate than the Indian skipper (5.88 to 5.62).

Root isn’t flashy. He places a high price on his wicket and plays exquisite cricketing shots with minimum risk. In some cases that can come off as self-serving but in his, it’s all about guaranteeing runs for the team regardless of where he bats.

In the aftermath of his latest brilliant knock, former England captain Michael Vaughan took to Twitter and labelled him ‘the most consistent player England have ever had across formats’.

Having Root in the batting order is effectively runs on the board, it’s as simple as he is. He plays every ball on its merit, delivers when called upon and leaves the entertaining to the others.

He’s an average Joe. Except, he’s not.

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Cricket World Cup 2019: Joe Root notches second ton of tournament as England breeze past West Indies

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Joe Root’s second century of the World Cup helped England cruise to victory over the West Indies, but the celebratory mood in Southampton was punctured by injury scares for captain Eoin Morgan and opener Jason Roy.

A commanding eight-wicket win against dangerous opponents was important in firming up England’s semi-final prospects, though seeing two of their best batsmen limp from the field was a bitter pill to swallow.

Roy hurt his left hamstring sprinting at cover and Morgan headed straight for the pavilion after a back spasm, with neither man taking their usual places in the batting order.

England will be desperate for positive news from the treatment room but the pair were not missed on the day, a modest chase of 213 proving a walk in the park for Root, who opened for the first time in his international one-day career and made 100 not out in 94 deliveries.

Root had already played an unlikely role with the ball, taking two wickets with his occasional off-spin, and the role reversals continued with a Chris Woakes cameo at number three.

Having never batted higher than seven in his previous 91 appearances, the all-rounder was handed an emergency elevation and chipped in with an assured 40.

The game was brilliantly set up by the bowlers, Barbados-born seamer Jofra Archer and Mark Wood delivering with pace and purpose as they shared combined figures of six for 48.

Archer’s first appearance against the team he had represented at Under-19 level had been much debated, but he took the moment in his stride as the Windies slid from 144 for three to 212 all out.

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Cricket World Cup 2019: Aaron Finch backs Mitch Marsh to step in for injured Marcus Stoinis if required

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Australia captain Aaron Finch has little doubt Mitch Marsh would be ready to slot into the side if Marcus Stoinis’ side strain leads to his withdrawal from their World Cup squad.

The injury Stoinis suffered in the loss against India last weekend led to the all-rounder missing out as Australia returned to winning ways against Pakistan and will also sideline him for Saturday’s clash against Sri Lanka at the Oval.

His involvement for the rest of the tournament will be decided in the next few days but Marsh is on standby after linking up with the Australian party.

Finch, flanked by Australia fielding coach Brad Haddin’s two young sons at his press conference, said: “(Stoinis) won’t be available again. He hasn’t bowled yet in his recovery over the last couple of days.

“So having four days between this game and the next game, I think that will be the ideal time to really test him out and assess him.

“But I think over the next five, six days there will be a call made on that, just based on what he can and can’t do.

“We’ve seen him batting and running, no problem. Just he hasn’t tried to bowl yet. Just waiting for the injury to settle down a bit more.”

Marsh was due to travel with Australia’s A side to England this week but flew over a couple of days earlier as cover for Stoinis.

Marsh has played no professional cricket since March while his last 50-over appearance was 18 months ago.

But if Cricket Australia does decide to trigger a formal request to remove Stoinis then Finch would back Marsh to be ready to face Bangladesh at Trent Bridge next Thursday.

Finch said: “The short answer is yes. There is confidence that Mitch will come in and do well if selected, if Stoinis doesn’t recover properly.”

The opener believes Australia, despite three wins from their opening four encounters, have yet to hit top gear in the tournament.

He said: “To come up against different opposition, you’re facing different challenges all the time.

“I don’t think we’ve gone anywhere near our best, which is still a good thing, that we’ve got six points on the board while not playing anywhere near our best cricket.

“But as long as we’re improving, and continue to go up and not go backwards, I think that’s the key. What per cent of 100 per cent game that you get to I think is irrelevant, as long as it’s improving along the way.”

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