Root’s hundred hoodoo continues as Aussies exploit defensive flaw

Cricket, featured, Joe Root, The Ashes

English skipper Joe Root’s hundred hoodoo in Australia has continued and he has now scored the second-most runs by an overseas player without making a century.

After making an even 50 on day one of the Third Test at the MCG, he now has 795 runs from 22 innings in Australia at a decent average of 39.75 but well down on his career clip of 50.28.

Despite making nine half-centuries in away Ashes Tests, he is still yet to reach triple figures with his 89 at the First Test at the Gabba his highest score.

English opener Tom Hayward, who played 15 Tests in Australia from 1897-1904, holds the record for most runs in men’s Test cricket by a foreigner without scoring a ton.

Root leapfrogged former English captain Nasser Hussain on Boxing Day – he amassed 789 from 20 innings at 41.52 with a best of 89 not out at Adelaide in 1998.

He is 12th overall for all players, including locals, for Test runs Down Under without hitting a hundred, headed by Shane Warne (1533), Richie Benaud (1078), Mitchell Johnson (1009) and Bert Oldfield (960).

It is one leaderboard he will be keen to get off in the second innings or in the remaining two Tests of the series.

As has been his custom, Root looked a million dollars until he nicked Mitchell Starc through to keeper Alex Carey.

Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting said in commentary on Seven that Root has a technical flaw which means he defends the ball with an angled bat, which contributed to his downfall to Starc.

“He’s a little bit unusual in his defensive game,” Ponting said.

“He’s very strong square of the wicket, off the front and back foot. It’s a big scoring zone for him but he also looks to defend very square. Very rarely do you see him defend the ball back down the pitch.

“His eyes and his head are actually going over to mid-off. Having been there a lot myself, when your head goes over that way it almost feels like the ball is on the wrong side of your eyes.

“That’s why I think he ends up defending that way because he feels like the ball is actually under his eyes but it’s not.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan was full of praise for Root’s impressive calendar year, with one big caveat.

“You look at his numbers this year and they’re right up there with the best,” said Vaughan on Fox Cricket. “He’s got balance, he’s got calmness, really trusting his game. He has the ability to place the ball in the gap.

“He’s in wonderful form but he’ll know this isn’t big enough or good enough for him or this England team at the minute.”

Root’s dismissal left the tourists in a precarious position at 4-82 early in the second session and England’s other big gun, Ben Stokes, was not able to rescue the innings, departing for 25 when he cut Cameron Green to Nathan Lyon at point.

It was the star all-rounder’s fifth failure with the bat from as many trips to the crease and left England in dire straits at 5-115 after being sent in by Pat Cummins.

Following a minimal build-up to the series after a lengthy layoff, Stokes has managed just 90 runs at a paltry average of 18, a long way short of his match-winning heroics for England in the 2019 series at home.

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