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’sย an average Joe. Except, he’s not.

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