The Ashes: Agony After Axe Fuels Joe Root’s Rise to Number One

Joe Root said the pain of being dropped from the side during England’s humiliating 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Australia some 18 months ago lay behind rise to the top of the Test batting rankings.

The 24-year-old Yorkshireman struck a superb 130, his second hundred of the series, in England’s innings and 78-run win in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge on Saturday.

Victory, completed inside three days, gave England an unbeatable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.

Root has scored 443 runs in the series, with two hundreds and two half-centuries, at an average of 71.79.

The latest edition of the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings published Sunday saw Root on top of the batting standings after displacing Australia’s Steven Smith — out for six and five in Nottingham — who dropped down to third place. (Hard To Let Go, Says Clarke)

Root’s current figures are a far cry from a meagre return of 192 in eight innings during the 2013/14 Ashes in Australia which culminated in him being dropped from the final Test in Sydney.

‘Hurt and pain’

“I can’t speak for other people, but personally that was the inspiration,” said Root as he savoured England’s victory at Trent Bridge.

“Knowing what we went through there — all that hurt and pain, all the stuff we’ve had to overcome since then — I think the way we have handled ourselves has been brilliant, and it’s shown by the performances we’ve put in on the field.”

“That was a tough tour — so when you get into a position of strength out in the middle and you know what it’s like to be on the wrong side of it, you want to make sure you drive it home,” added Root, who made 134 in England’s 169-run win in the first Test of this Ashes in Cardiff.

“You want to make sure you’re not in that position again.

“That’s something that has always been in the back of my mind. It’s definitely one of the reasons why this is so enjoyable.”

Root has long been tipped as a future England captain, but he remains happy to serve under current skipper Alastair Cook.

“As far as captaincy is concerned, Cooky has done exceptionally well,” said Root.

“He’s just won the Ashes for the second time in three attempts, so I hope he’ll be in charge of us for a long time.

“He has been a fantastic captain throughout the series and throughout this summer, as he was before that,” added Root of Cook, just the third English captain, after W.G. Grace and Mike Brearley, to twice win the Ashes on home soil.

“There have been times when we haven’t backed him up, but thankfully this series we have — and we hope that will continue.”

While the rankings say Root is the world’s leading batsman, the player himself said he was far from the finished article.

“My game is nowhere near perfect,” he said. “I have a lot of things I want to work on … (but) you don’t get a better feeling than this.

“You have personal goals. But it is nowhere near the front of my mind.

“It’s about having days like this and being part of something as special as this with this group of players.

“It’s been such a complete team performance.”


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