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India v England 2024

Was it the wrong shot to play? Commentators divided over Root reverse ramp dismissal

Joe Root's shot in the first innings at Rajkot drew criticism
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Joe Root was out caught in the slips in England’s first innings in Rajkot having played a reverse scoop straight to Yashasvi Jaiswal at second slip. The selection of the shot less than half an hour into the morning session divided the commentators.

Root was out for 18 having started positively in the first four overs of play. He’s struggled so far in the series, registering a top score of 29 having been dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah in two of his first four innings. In the second Test, he was out advancing down the ground to R Ashwin bringing a frenetic innings to an end.

With news overnight that Ashwin would play no further part in the Test, England needed to hammer home their advantage with India a bowler down. They went into the third day on 207-2, trailing by 238 runs. Following hitting Bumrah for four in his second over, Root brought out a reverse scoop shot in his next, but misjudged it and ended up hitting the ball directly to Jaiswal to give India a cheap wicket. He threw his head back and shouted in frustration as he walked off the field.

Jonny Bairstow was out for a duck in the next over and England eventually collapsed to 319 all-out, conceding a first innings deficit of 231 runs. Root’s shot divided the TV commentators.

“For a start you can’t have your cake and eat it,” said Dinesh Karthik. “If you clapped for him and enjoyed it for a year now when he’s been getting boundaries then you should be okay with him getting out like this. Any shot you play, an aggressive option, always has a cause and effect sort of thing. You get the boundaries some days and you get out on certain days, that’s how you’ve got to read it.

“I know in the dressing room they’re going to be completely okay with that shot but a lot of people are going to say, was that required? I believe at this point of time as I see this game unfolding, should I say talking about Test cricket as a whole, people are playing a lot more aggressively and bringing more shots to the fore, I am completely okay with that dismissal if I’m Joe Root. ”

Sunil Gavaskar also defended Root’s shot selection. “I think he’ll be very disappointed, we saw that he was disappointed,” said Gavaskar. “See with every shot selection it’s the execution of the shot that’s important. You play all kinds of shots and there’s nothing wrong with them, but if the execution is not correct then you get out, like for example a hook shot. You might be such a good player of the hook shot but if you haven’t executed the hook shot well you could get caught. The same thing happened here.

“Every batter has his favourite shot, sometimes you get out to your favourite shot. Like DK, you won’t be critical of that because he’s played it before and been successful. He’s been successful and he’s got plenty of runs.”

Root has employed reverse ramps and scoops in Test matches more and more over the last couple of years. He memorably brought out a reverse ramp to Pat Cummins’ first ball of Day Four of the first Ashes Test in 2023. Karthik reference the shot in his defence of Root’s dismissal in Rajkot.

“Just jog your memory back to the Ashes,” said Karthik. “First ball of the day he did it if you remember. First ball of the day he went for a reverse sweep and got a boundary [Root actually missed the attempted first ball reverse scoop off Root]. Hard to argue when it comes good and it looks good, when it doesn’t obviously the debates will come back, understandable as well.”

However, Nick Knight disagreed with both Gavaskar and Karthik, asserting that given the situation of the match, getting through Bumrah’s opening spell tipped the balance of risk versus reward to the shot.

“I just thought the match situation, I was on commentary watching it live, you just felt the first 15 minutes England were in control,” said Knight. “Joe Root’s a little short of runs in the series, everything just looked as if England were building on the success they had yesterday. Bumrah, how much is he going to bowl? Because he’s going to have to bowl a lot throughout the day because of no Ashwin. I know he’s scored a lot of runs with that shot but the match situation at that time.”

Root hasn’t passed 50 in a Test in India in his last 12 innings. In that time, he averages 16.36 in India with a top score of 40.

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