Nasser Hussain, on the Sky Sports Cricket broadcast of the second Test between England and West Indies at Manchester, offered his technical take on why Joe Root has struggled in recent times.
In 2019, Root had his worst year, in terms of batting average, since his first full year as a Test cricketer in 2013. Between 2014 and 2017, the right-hander averaged 57.56 in Tests. In 2018 the figure was 41.21, while in 2019, despite Root making a double century in New Zealand towards the end of the year, his average dipped below 40, to 37.
A graphic showed Root’s average against full- and good-length balls in the years 2016-2019, with Root averaging more than 40 in each of the first three of those years, and just 17.33 in 2019. Hussain highlighted Root’s foot and trigger movement as playing a key part in the England captain’s struggles.
The returning Root has steadied England from 29-2 in second #raisethebat Test 🏴🏝️
Here's @nassercricket with analysis of his technique…🎙️
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) July 16, 2020
“When Joe Root’s playing well, the rhythm of his batting is a joy to watch,” said Hussain. “It’s all about his triggers. These averages are what he is against the full delivery and the length ball. Look at how, in previous years from last year, how small his movements are, and how he’s on the balls of his front foot, he’s on his toes and ready to go again.
“Last year when he struggled against Australia, look how wide he got, and he then planted his front foot. In previous years, because he was on his toes, and he had a shorter stride, it meant he could come back into the shot perfectly. On his toes in 2018, balance coming forward. Last summer, against Australia: wider, on his heels, couldn’t come back into the shot, and hence he had to go at it with his hands. Smaller stride, on your toes, come forward; wider stride, on your heel, can’t go again.”
While Root averaged 48 in 2020 coming into this game, Hussain highlighted how, in his opinion, Root is yet to correct the frailty. “This innings: wide, trying to get on his toe, trying to come back into it, not quite the rhythm he had a couple of years ago,” he said. “He’s still fighting it a fraction.”
Not long after, Root nicked a full ball from Alzarri Joseph to the slips for 23.