Galle To Gabba: Joe Root’s Top Five Test centuries in 2021
Joe Root has scored most runs this calendar year with 1541 runs against his name
All the best athletes in this world have a special knack of achieving something extraordinary while making it look simple yet gorgeous. In Test Cricket, as a player growing up, one always wants to touch such feats that others haven’t.
England red-ball format captain, Joe Root, is having a wonderful 2021 batting around the globe. He has always been able to put the game into perspective; he always exudes energy and confidence walking into the ground and doing interviews.
Batting is bloody hard and the binoculars always remain on an England captain when they cross the boundary line. Leading a side as well as batting can be so taxing but it is rarely so for the Yorkshireman. He has an enthusiasm of a school kid playing the game with a bright smile on his face.
We will look at his Top 5 Test innings in 2021 with which he has taken his batting to another level.
228 vs Sri Lanka, Galle, January 14-18, 2021
It was the first of six Tests for England in Asia. Playing on these sub-continental tracks against quality spin bowling with a bunch of guys waiting for you to make a mistake and not to mention the physical toughness to bat in 30-35-degress of temperature can wear you down.
Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat but could manage only 135. England didn’t begin well as they welcomed their captain Joe Root at 17-2.
On their previous tour to the Emerald Island in 2018, although, Root had made a hundred but he was constantly getting out to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath and here he was again before another left-armer Lasith Embuldeniya who had already sent both openers in the hut.
But the best players always learn from their mistakes. The England captain played really sensibly. First, he settled the innings building a partnership with Dan Lawrence and then when wickets started to crumble, he went into the aggressive mode playing shots to every part of the field. He finished on 228 and England won the game by 7 wickets.
109 vs India, Trent Bridge, August 4-8, 2021
England were under pressure having lost the Test series against New Zealand at the beginning of the home season. So, on one side of the coin, it was a hundred that changed the fate of the game from a loss to a draw with a little help of rain on the last day; on the flip of it, England required to face the Indian and Australian bowling attack with a fragile batting line-up with the exception of their captain.
Root did bring up a half-century in the first innings but his presence gave the side a different type of confidence.
Coming at 46-2 with the home side struggling to find answers against the Indian attack, he had so much on his shoulders. Generally, with the Dukes under English conditions, batting is never easy but the best players always make things look like a trouble-free job. He again stitched up a partnership that settled the England line-up but as he was losing partners from under end, like every innings, he tried to play some shots.
The most eye-catching part was finding the gaps and during his batting, only the bowler and wicketkeeper appeared to be on the field. And with a controlled straight drive, he brought up his 21st Test Hundred as the English fans raised the voice saying “Roooooottttt.”
It was his sixth Test 100 against India; putting him only behind Sir Alastair Cook (7). Thankfully, he made England batting line-up look good on that day. Read More: India vs England 1st Test, Day 4 - Root’s ton revives England, India need 157 runs on Day 5
218 vs India, Chennai, February 5-9, 2021
Even though England were coming with a comprehensive series victory against Sri Lanka, it was a far bigger challenge to tackle India in their familiar conditions. The win in Chennai should be remembered for ages to come and Joe Root should stand strongly for being the most important person behind the result.
Again, he entered the ground with two back-to-back wickets having fallen; and three spinners were on their feet. He first notched up a 200-run stand with Dom Sibley before playing second fiddle in the partnership with Ben Stokes.
But still if they had to win, they were required to bat long and post a huge total to tire down the opposition bowlers mentally and physically. Probably, the only thing that did pose a problem to Root was the dry heat of Chennai as he batted for 377 balls for his 218 runs being in the middle for about 125 overs. England’s batting in the second innings showed how crucial was Root in the first innings to defeat India by 227 runs.
186 vs Sri Lanka, Galle, January 22-25, 2021
Joe Root seemed to have got into a love affair with his bat in the beginning of the year. In the second Test of the series, Sri Lanka recorded 381 in the first innings and like the previous match, again, England welcomed their skipper at 7-2 having no answer to the same left-armer Embuldeniya.
Jonny Bairstow did help him a bit but couldn’t last long as also Butler whose wicket took England to 229-5. On the other side of the wicket, Root was playing sweeps, reverse-sweeps, drives, cuts as if he was batting in another track against an alternate attack.
He built another short partnership with Dom Bess but the lack of support from partners from the other end was making it tough for him to do it alone. At last, he stopped for 186 but not by the opponent bowling; he got run-out after being tired batting most of the days in that series.
The home side was bundled out for just 126 as England secured another whitewash in Sri Lanka. Root’s second innings show again proved how important that knock was for England.
180 vs India, Lord’s, Aug 12-16, 2021
Just after saving his side in Trent Bridge, here was Root again walking in to bat in another pressure cooker situation watching his side losing two wickets after going for 364 runs in the first innings.
The moment he started batting, it appeared to be the easiest job. He started with a little dab to third man to open his account and then the runs started to flow.
He combined with batters from the other end to register small partnerships and like other games, the help from the other end was bare minimum. He stood there at one end as a lone warrior helping his side take a lead of 27 runs and ending at 180*. The innings also showed that he could easily change his gears to help his team. Read More: India vs England, 2nd Test, Day 3: Bowlers toil for India, England take 27-run lead
Records in sight for Root for calendar year 2021
The year 2021 has been owned by Joe Root as he overtakes former England captain, Michael Vaughan, and now has the most Test runs for England in a calendar year with 1541 runs during his innings at Gabba.
Root still has four more innings to overtake Mohammad Yousuf who registered 1788 runs in 2006. He requires 115 more runs to become the highest run-scorer as Test captain in a calendar year. Nonetheless, he will hope to carry this form for England but would hope to get some help from his team-mates too. Read More: India vs England, 3rd Test Records – Root top century-maker in India-England encounters