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Wisden at CWC19

Joe Root’s all-round masterclass against West Indies – Almanack

Joe Root v West Indies
by Hugh Chevallier 2 minute read

After a recovery of sorts, West Indies looked ready to launch in their second half as skies began to open up in Southampton, before Joe Root decided to turn it around with the ball. A fluent hundred later in the day would round off England’s third comprehensive win at the 2019 World Cup.

England v West Indies
Match 19, ICC Cricket World Cup 2019
The Ageas Bowl, Southampton
June 14, 2019

On paper, this was a tricky assignment for England: they had lost to Pakistan, whom West Indies had crushed.

England’s luck, though, was in from the moment Morgan won the toss under familiar clouds – yet with the prospect of afternoon sun. Woakes put iffy form behind him to remove the left-handed Lewis with an inswinger in the third over and, had Wood not shelled a tough but holdable chance at third man, would have had Gayle for 15 in the seventh. It was not too costly: a slower ball from Plunkett forced an error, and Bairstow held the skyer.

Moments later, England shrewdly reviewed Wood’s lbw shout against Hope. From a rickety 55 for three, West Indies pieced together a recovery thanks to rising stars Pooran and Hetmyer. They had added 89 when the breakthrough came via an unlikely Root. His little-seen, if honest, off-breaks-cum-gentle-seam inveigled both Hetmyer and Holder into giving return catches, and his first ODI wickets for 17 months had West Indies teetering at 156 for five.

Archer, against the team he might have represented, slammed the escape hatch, another smart review confirming Buttler’s belief that Pooran had gloved a snorter; the rest followed meekly.

Yet there had been an unexpected cost: Roy (hamstring) and Morgan (back spasm) limped off. It meant the adaptable Root opened, with Woakes coming in at first drop: new England roles for both in white-ball cricket.

Against an anodyne attack – on this slow surface, West Indies’ demolition of Pakistan was a hazy memory – Root strode towards his third World Cup hundred, a national record. Bairstow, who wafted straight to third man, and Woakes hit uncomplicated forties, and England strolled to victory.

First published in the 2020 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack

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