Ashes 2017/18: I Wish Joe Root Didn’t Have the Captaincy Burden – Graeme Swann: With Joe Root’s failure to convert his fifties into centuries continuing in the just-concluded second Ashes Test in Adelaide, former England spinner Graeme Swann believes Joe Root was better off as just a batsman. Swann feels the burden of captaincy has affected the England captain’s batting.
Root began his captaincy career on a bright note, slamming 190 against South Africa at the Lord’s. However, things have not looked encouraging since then.
In 15 innings after the Lord’s masterclass, the England star Root crossed fifty on nine occasions but managed to convert only one of them into a three-digit mark when he scored 136 against the Windies in Edgbaston.
The problem has continued in Australia too. In four innings so far, he had scored two fifties with the latter one of them coming when the team needed him to score. Root had begun the fifth day of the Adelaide Test on 67 when England were 176 for four in pursuit of 354 but departed even without adding a single run to his overnight score. Also in the second innings of the first Test, he got out just after adding one run to his half-century.
“It’s a monkey on his back, and it will continue to grow with so many fifties not being hundreds,” Swann told ESPNcricinfo. “I’m still convinced it’s because he’s had the captaincy put on him. I wish they hadn’t, I wish he didn’t have the burden and could just be our best-ever batsman but that decision has been made, and this tour will be tough on him because that pressure will build and build.”
Swann further rued the lack of contribution from England’s top-six batsmen. In the four innings of the series so far, none of the England players had managed to cross the three digit-mark with James Vince’s 83 in the first innings of Brisbane being the highest. On the contrary, Australia had registered two centuries, and both of them have turned out to be decisive.
“The top six just aren’t churning out the scores you need to win Test cricket,” Swann said. “Vince got a brilliant 80 in Brisbane but since then hasn’t performed, Mark Stoneman is looking good but not converting the starts and the big guns Cook and Root just aren’t scoring hundreds. There are problems. The scoreboard has to read 400-450 if you want to win here.”
Graeme Swann also warned against dropping Moeen Ali who has looked like a pale shadow of the all-rounder who had a stunning outing in this year’s home season. The left-handed batsman has performed decently with the bat, scoring 105 in four innings but has managed to pick up just a couple of wickets so far.
“One person I wouldn’t drop despite very ordinary performances is Moeen Ali. You need to still play a spinner at Perth, and it would be a very big call to bring in Mason Crane at probably the least spin-friendly ground in world cricket. But Moeen has to start believing in himself as a bowler. If he’s injured, he has a week to get over that, and he has to bat with conviction and flair. When he’s on fire he’s a dangerous prospect, but at the moment he’s 50% Moeen,” said the former England spin spearhead.
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