Joe Root speaks after England's loss to Australia in the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval.
Joe Root speaks after England's loss to Australia in the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval. DAVE HUNT

Root reveals frustrations with batting

CRICKET: Joe Root sits third on the International Cricket Council's Test batting rankings, averages a healthy 53.05 and has scored 5465 runs in the format before turning 27.

It's a record that quite rightly has him rated among the world's finest players and why alongside Australia's Steve Smith, New Zealand's Kane Williamson and India's Virat Kohli he is considered one of the four elite batsmen of this generation.

But right now there is a huge difference between Root and the rest of the big four.

While the other three men are ruthless, the Englishman is profligate. Once they are in, Smith, Williamson and Kohli go on to play the game's defining innings more often than not. Root does not and that's a problem for England.

England captain Joe Root plays a shot on Day 4 of the Second Test match between Australia and England at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Tuesday, December 5, 2017. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY, IMAGES TO BE USED FOR NEWS REPORTING PURPOSES ONLY, NO COMMERCIAL USE WHATSOEVER, NO USE IN BOOKS WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM AAP
Joe Root plays a shot during the second Test match between Australia and England in Adelaide. DAVE HUNT

The elegant right-hander went into day five at Adelaide Oval on 67, fully aware that the match was in his hands. If he went big, he would lift England to one of the game's most remarkable victories.

He fell to Josh Hazlewood without adding a run to his overnight score, bottom edging the quick behind.

It continues a worrying tendency for the England captain who has now fallen between 50 and 100 seven times this year, with just the two centuries to his name.

By comparison, Smith has turned four of six 50+ scores this year into hundreds and Willamson three of his four. Kohli has been even more impressive: five of his six 50+ scores have resulted in tons, three of those five tons have gone past 200 and the two that did not finished unbeaten.

India's captain Virat Kohli plays a shot during the fourth day of their third test cricket match against Sri Lanka in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
India's captain Virat Kohli onhis way to another big score during a Test match against Sri Lanka. Altaf Qadri

"He'll be very disappointed,” Test legend Shane Warne said of Root's trouble turning fifties into centuries.

"You look at the Virat Kohlis, and the Steve Smiths, the Williamsons ... their conversion rate is so much better than that.

"And that's something that Joe Root, I know he's disappointed with and he's trying to work hard on - and he's probably trying too hard when he makes 50 to get a hundred.”

There have been suggestions from some parts that this is down to the added responsibility of captaincy he has taken on this year. It sounds a valid theory but this has actually been a problem for Root for the past few years. In 2016, when he topped the run-scoring charts for the year (1477 at 49.23), he only registered three centuries compared to 10 fifties and in 2015 he had the same conversion rate.

"I'd be lying if said I wasn't frustrated about it but I feel my game is in good order,” Root said. in India late last year when he scored one century and four fifties.

"I'm not sure why it is. Maybe, I wouldn't say overconfidence, but maybe I need to rein it in slightly. But if it's a bad ball I want to hit it for four.”

It's a run that has left him with 33 Test half-centuries but only 13 hundreds. That's some distance from the next worst conversion rate among the big four - Williamson has 17 tons to 25 fifties.

Smith by comparison has an even split of 21 fifties and 21 tons, while Kohli has a scarcely believable 20 tons to 15 fifties - among players with more than 10 tons only Don Bradman (29 tons, 13 fifties) was better at going from 50 to 100.