Joe Root has insisted it had been his choice to return to No. 3 at the England line-up and hopes the change proves his decision to take tough decisions for the benefit of the team.
England’s top-order has struggled for many years and, entering the Ashes, it seemed they may field a top three with just 11 caps – and no centuries – between them.
But while has made no secret of his inclination to bat at No. 4, it became apparent earlier this week that he was going to move the order in an attempt to add some experience in the top three.
“It was my choice,” Root said. “I came to the last decision in the Ireland match. It is something I’ve been considering for quite a very long time. It is an opportunity for me to have in there earlier to distribute the experience.
And for a very long time my record at No.4 would imply that would be the best thing. But, where we are as a team now and where I am at as a captain, I’m a good enough player to be able to earn exactly the very same returns at No.3.
“There are a number of different ways you can lead. This is just one more opportunity to take my leadership forward and kind of show the rest of the group that it is something I’m more than prepared to do. I am not expecting anybody to do something I would not.”
Root has batted at No. 3 previously. He spent much of 2016 – before he had been – in the role, although it was noticeable that he reverted to No. 4 when he took on the direction. In all, he averages 40.47 in 40 innings with two centuries and 10 half-centuries in the position. He averages 48.00 at 60 innings with seven centuries and 19 half-centuries at No. 4.
He hopes, however, that his rising expertise of captaincy has helped him compartmentalise the diverse demands upon him and allow him to enjoy as much success a little further up the order.
“Having captained this aspect for a little while, I feel I could get my head about juggling leading on the field and batting,” Root said. “Hopefully we’ll notice that in my batting and this is sometimes a string where I stamp my power in the function and make it my own. I am eager to accept such a challenge.”
Root admits, but that this could be a string controlled by bowlers. He understands that England’s decision to use a brand of Dukes ball with a particularly prominent seam may lead to lower scores and takes that his side may need to adapt to that reality. However he believes they must also follow their own natural games and has advocated Jason Roy to continue to take the attack to the bowlers.
“We know that, especially in England, it can be very difficult on peak of the order,” Root said. “It’s the way you react to this: ‘ are we skilful and smart enough to make big scores? We have exploited bowler-friendly conditions within the last couple of years and discovered ways of winning games in England. We have a good record here. It’s set up nicely for a juicy contest.
“So there’s a good deal of discussion about bowlers, but with that comes the opportunity for batters to prove a point. You have to play to your strengths and Jason has been chosen to play in his own way near the peak of the purchase. It’s very exciting that we have gone like that. It gives us something slightly different. He has the opportunity to place pressure on the opposition near the top of the order.
“We’ve gone about things in a certain way for a long time and this is a chance to try something different. We feel like he is a high-quality global player. He has a point to prove in Test cricket, but he has a very good match on him. I am very excited to find unfold.”