Virat is the best Indian batsman right now
He is one of the best batsmen to have ever represented his country, and when his career as a player is over he will likely hold all of the major batting records for his nation.
He averages just under 50 in tests (49.39 to be exact) and over 50 in ODIs. He has achieved 35 international centuries, was instrumental in a successful 2019 World Cup and is the captain of his test team.
Despite his incredible list of achievements, Joe Root is no longer part of a very exclusive club, according to most cricket fans and experts.
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Root is stylish on his 100th test
What was once the “Fab Four” of cricket - made up of Root, Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson - has now been reduced to a “Big Three”.
Root's steady decline from the first stage of test batting is a bit strange, but there are signs that it is about to make a second comeback.
It may seem like an arbitrary downgrade to the English skipper, but it should sting a Roots caliber player.
Even according to his own statements, Root admitted that he is not quite on the level of his colleagues.
“I'm not trying to measure myself against Kohli, Williamson and Smith. I am not sure if I am in their brackets, ”he said in October 2020.
In three calendar years from 2018 to 2020, his colleagues in the Cricket test were over 50 on average, and over 60 in Williamson's case.
On the other hand, Root, who averaged less than 40 years old, saw his career test average drop below 50 and dropped out of the top 10 of the ICC stroke rankings for the first time.
Along with mixed results as a captain, it seems to have led many to conclude that Root is great, but does he really deserve to be mentioned alongside the other three?
It's debatable if Root isn't even considered the best player on his team anymore, thanks to the enduring all-round excellence of Ben Stokes.
One of the biggest problems with the root narrative was its inability to convert good starts into match-winning innings.
No player scored more than 50 points as root in their first 99 tests - they have 68 of them. The players right behind him? Suni Gavaskar (66), Brian Lara (64), Rahul Dravid (63) and Sachin Tendulkar (63).
The stats are evidence not only of Roots ability, but also of the frustration at his blocked potential.
While Kohli and Smith have 27 tons each and Williamson has 24 tons, all three batsmen have excellent conversion rates; that is, turn half a century into a century. Root is a different story.
Virat Kohli - 23 test 50s, 27 test 100s; Conversion rate 54 percent
Steve Smith - 31 test 50s, 27 test 100s; Conversion rate 46.6 percent
Kane Williamson - 32 test 50s, 24 test 100s; Conversion rate 42.8 percent
Joe Root - 49 test 50s, 19 test 100s; Conversion rate 9/27
Interestingly, Roots conversion rate is better than his Test record in cricket with limited exceedances and is superior to both Smith and Williamson's numbers. To put it in perspective, if Root were to convert 50s to 100s at the same speed that he did in ODIs as he did in tests, the English skipper would now have 22 centuries.
Virat Kohli - 60 ODI 50s, 43 ODI 100s; Conversion rate 41.7 percent
Steve Smith - 25 ODI 50s, 11 ODI 100s; Exchange rate 30.6 percent
Kane Williamson - 39 ODI 50s, 13 ODI 100s; Conversion rate 25 percent
Joe Root - 33 ODI 50s, 16 ODI 100s; Conversion rate 32.7
While Tests and Limited Overs Cricket are very different games, Roots' superior conversion rate in a format that should theoretically be more difficult to convert is a cause for curiosity.
Ironically, the skills that made him a phenomenon in cricket over 50 could partially explain Roots fighting in tests.
The percentage of deliveries that Root left alone against the pace has steadily declined since 2016. When a quarter of deliveries went to the goalkeeper, that percentage had dropped to just 13.8 in 2020.
Root doesn't get more aggressive until after 50 years, playing a shot except for 9% of shipments thrown by seafarers. This is in stark contrast to Smith, Kohli, and Williamson, who after reaching their half century are still leaving 30%, 27%, and 14% of shipments, respectively.
While it is only natural for a batsman to play more strokes as he spends more time on the kink compared to his peers, Root does little to eliminate the risk of losing his wicket.
In addition to his lackluster conversion rate, Root is the only player in the quartet to have seen his streak drop in taking over the captaincy.
Virat Kohli - Average not as a captain; 41.13. Average as captain; 60.69
Steve Smith - Average not as a captain; 55.44. Average as captain; 70.36
Kane Williamson - Average not as a captain; 49.23. Average as captain; 62.81
Joe Root - Average not as a captain; 52.80. Average as captain; 45.68
It should be noted, however, that while the other three were cemented in their hitting position, Root switched between # 3 and # 4 between 2018 and 2019 for team balance reasons.
Root has been losing ground to his three rivals recently, but there are signs that he is on the verge of forcing himself back into the conversation.
While Root has had problems at home since 2018 - an average of just 33 in 18 games and a hundred - his overseas record makes for a far better display.
South Africa Test Tour postponed
After England's most recent tour of Sri Lanka, in which the English skipper scored 228 and 186 points in two consecutive tests, Roots average outside of home is a healthy 53.90 with five centuries from 17 games.
Granted, the current team in Sri Lanka is a shadow of what it used to be, but getting over 400 runs in three innings on corners is still not an easy task.
Using both conventional and reverse sweeps as his weapon of choice to combat spin, Root provided the blueprint for how he and his team could succeed in what is sure to be an exciting four-test series against India.
Root developed the sweep shot to offset his short stature during his formative years, and an average of 300 since 2018 while playing the dash.
During a recent interview with Indian timesFormer English weirdo Graeme Swann cited Root as an example the rest of the team should look out for in order to be successful on the subcontinent.
“English batsmen just have to copy what Root does. He is very picky about shooting. He plays the sweep shot well and others need to watch Root closely as he is England's trump card. "
Often referred to as the hardest to tour country in world cricket, India shouldn't be scared of Root as the English skipper averages over 53 in six games and was part of a successful touring team in 2012.
Before the first game in Chennai, the stakes for England and Root could hardly have been higher. Before his 100th Test, Root can still lead his country to an unlikely place in the final of the Test World Cup with a 3-0 win over an Indian team aiming high after their triumph Down Under.
A place in the WTC final is not the be-all and end-all for Root or England, but a strong performance against India would significantly silence the doubters.
Given that England will face India, New Zealand and India at home before heading to Australia to reclaim the ashes, there should be little doubt that they will be among the world's best at test level by the end of the year. Together with his side, Root will have every opportunity to end all debates and assert himself as one of the talents of the cricket generation.
As Root prepares to wind up a century he would never miss, it could be the centuries he has not yet reached in 2021 that could define his legacy.
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