Once the dust has settled on events in Kolkata last Sunday night, England will look back on the World T20 tournament as a whole and take a great many positives from it. The ability to chase and set huge totals now appears more likely with Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Jos Buttler in the line-up. In Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes, England finally have the bowling variations that they have lacked in recent years and their fielding unit has improved beyond recognition.
The team as a whole has improved beyond any comprehension in a little over a year, but in every top side there is one really special player and in England’s case, it is Joe Root. His development since his debut, only three and a half years ago, has been quite astonishing and his performance in the final has only confirmed the remarkable talent that he has. He currently averages over 50 in Test cricket and emerged from India with World T20 stats of 249 runs from six games at an average of 49.8. He was without a doubt England’s best and most influential player.
India’s Virat Kohli has been lauded for his performances during the competition and his average of 136.50 is simply ridiculous. In a game dominated by brutality and invention his approach and immense skill has really made him stand out.
In Root, however, England have a player of similar ilk and at a similar stage of Kohli’s career there is not much difference. Both players are able to score all around the wicket and have the ability to rotate the strike, which proved key to both player’s successes.
What the truly great batsmen do though, is think on their feet and adjust to the situation and demands of the game. Kumar Sangakkara commented on Sky’s coverage that the best approach to playing a bowler as skilled and miserly as Samuel Badree was to rotate the strike. Of the England players that faced him it was only Root who was confident enough to nurdle him around for a single and keep the bowler thinking. It was a million miles away from his reverse scoop for six against South Africa only a week before, but that situation demanded a different approach and he delivered.
At only 25, the record books could be in serious danger if he continues to develop at this rate. Batsmen are generally considered to be in their peak during their late twenties/early thirties and it will be fascinating to see just how good he can be by that time. The only obvious obstacle at this point could be the captaincy but his personality and place within the group suggests that he might not struggle with the extra burden. Only time will tell.
Root has everything required to reach the top of his sport. The fact that he plays with a smile on his face has endeared him to the public but his steely hunger and desire to succeed will ensure that he keeps on improving. His improvement in less than four years has been staggering and the next stage of his development will see him being regarded as potentially the greatest and most complete English batsman in history.
By Andy Hunter