Why Yorkshire CCC’s masterful Joe Root has assumed world leading man status again

YORKSHIRE’S Joe Root is the new No 1 Test batsman in the world after returning to top spot in the International Cricket Council rankings for the first time in six years.

By Rory Dollard, PA
Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 5:55 pm
England's Joe Root, seen in action against India at Headingley last week, has returned to the top of the ICC world rankings for Test batsmen.  Picture: Nigel French/PA
England's Joe Root, seen in action against India at Headingley last week, has returned to the top of the ICC world rankings for Test batsmen. Picture: Nigel French/PA

The England Test captain previously held the position back in 2015 but had drifted to ninth at the start of 2021.

Since then he has been in masterful form, scoring 1,398 runs in 11 matches at a lofty average of 69.90. There have been six centuries since the turn of the year, including three in as many matches in the ongoing series against India.

The 30-year-old has hit scores of 109, 180 not out and 121 in the past month, during which he has soared past opposite number Virat Kohli, Australia duo Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

TOP MAN: England Test captain and world No 1 batsman, Joe Root Picture : Nigel French/PA

Root took the news in his stride, suggesting there was more still to come from him.

“It’s a nice thing to hear, but I’m focused on trying to keep scoring runs in this series and get us across the line,” he said.

“Hopefully the form of my life is still to come, but certainly I feel very good at the minute.

“I’ve got to stay focused and diligent in my preparation and doing the work around the games to keep giving myself the best chance to keep banging out some big scores.

New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson, left, is just below Joe Root in the ICC rankings for Test batsmen. Picture: AP/Ian Walton.

“As nice as it is there is still so much hard work to do. The focus doesn’t change, it’s all about trying to keep getting better, continue scoring runs and hopefully setting up games to win Test matches.”

Root has reached 916 ranking points, just one behind his 2015 peak and 15 clear of Williamson. The run-scoring burden that sits on Root’s shoulders is exemplified by the fact Ben Stokes, currently on an indefinite hiatus, is England’s next batsman on the list at 16..

Among the bowlers former world No 1 James Anderson is England’s leading name, back up to fifth in a list led by Australian Pat Cummins, while Ollie Robinson’s player of the match performance at Headingley sees him jump up to 36th place after only four Tests.

For the first time in almost four years, Kohli is not his side’s top-rated batsman. After just one half-century in seven innings in England, he has been usurped by opener Rohit Sharma at five.

Meanwhile, England have confirmed that Moeen Ali will serve as Root’s vice-captain. With Stokes unavailable and Jos Buttler withdrawing due to the arrival of his second child, Moeen has been asked to deputise ahead of other candidates including Anderson and Rory Burns.

“Moeen is a natural leader and someone who the team gravitate towards,” said Root.

“He has a brilliant cricket brain. I’m really excited for him, absolutely he’s the right man for the role.”