By: Chinmay Vaidya
Joe Root didn’t show up against Australia. It probably the first time in the Root’s career he didn’t have a single strong performance across an entire series. If England wanted to knock off India, it needed its first true superstar to show up.
Two unbeaten centuries later, Root has silenced any rumblings of a slump or decline. Despite the poor run against Australia, he still entered the series as one of the five best batsmen in the world and exited showing he’s ready to make a run for the top spot.
Root outdueled Virat Kohli across the three-game set, outscoring India’s star 216-191 in England’s 2-1 win. Kohli has established himself as the top batsman in cricket, but look over the past year and the tide could be shifting. As the 2019 World Cup quickly approaches, it could be Root’s turn to take over the mantle.
If you look at the raw numbers over the last two years (including the most recent series), it would appear Kohli has the clear edge. But break it down one year at a time and Root isn’t too far behind.
July 2017 – July 2018
Virat Kohli – 22 innings, 1,522 runs, 10 100s, 12 50s
Joe Root – 23 innings, 998 runs, 3 100s, 6 50s
July 2016 – June 2017
Virat Kohli – 16 innings, 931 runs, 2 100s, 7 50s
Joe Root – 19 innings, 1,059 runs, 2 100s, 8 50s
Kohli had a fantastic run over the past year. He also had an unsustainable number of centuries. Take away those centuries and you get a year like 2016-17. Meanwhile, the impact of Root’s poor Australia series is plain and simple. Take out those five innings and his numbers are right where they should be.
Root (minus July’s Australia series) – 18 innings, 894 runs, 3 100s, 5 50s
As Kohli’s century rate inevitably drops, Root’s overall consistency will push him closer to the top spot in the ODI rankings. This back-and-forth between Root and Kohli will likely continue until the 2019 World Cup, where England will have an advantage as the host nation. That will be Root’s superstar moment to push himself as the top batsman in the world and label this group of players as England’s “golden generation”.