The best England batsman of his generation, one of only two England batsmen with an average of over 50 in ODIs (qual 1000 runs) and the third highest run scorer in ODIs in their history, so much of England’s success in any format rests on Joe Root. He isn’t going to be the crash, bang, wallop kind of player who makes a hundred off 50 balls, but he is no less important.
His career strike rate is 89, not up there with Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, but it certainly isn’t slow. What Root gives this team is a modicum of stability. He is the man who can be relied upon to finish with 60 off 70 balls while someone at the other end goes at a strike rate of close to 200. That is a vital role and the importance of it cannot be underestimated.
England teams of the past have struggled to make hundreds. Between the 2011 and 2015 World Cup England scored 20 hundreds. Root made three of those. Between the 2015 World Cup and the start of this one England have made 46 hundreds and Root has made 11 of those. He now has more ODI hundreds than any England player in history. He has been the foundation on which England have built enormous scores more than once and he will do that again during this World Cup.
Where Root is different from the rest of this England batting line up is that his batting is all about classical shots and classy timing. He doesn’t have the innovation of Jos Buttler or Eoin Morgan, the brute power of Jason Roy or Ben Stokes, or the swashbuckling style of Moeen Ali. He is a world-class ODI batsman for the connoisseur. England have a rock on which their batting successes have been built, and it is sometimes easy to forget just how good he is with his flashy teammates taking all the headlines.