The stats that prove Joe Root is less-suited to Australia


But, even given these challenges, Australian conditions are comparatively ill-suited to Root’s game. Down under, the type of bowling that Root does worse against is more prominent.

As a batsman Root veers between all-time great and merely very good, depending on whether he is facing spin or pace. He averages 66 against spin in Tests, and 44 against pace.

One of Root’s difficulties down under is that pace bowling matters more than normal. But an altogether bigger problem is the type of pace bowling: both taller and quicker than normal in Test cricket. In his Test career, Root averages 60 against deliveries released from shorter than two metres – showing his preference for skiddier bowlers, such as India’s attack – but 35 against pace deliveries released from two metres or higher. He also has a marked preference for bowling of slightly lesser speed. Root averages 49 against pace deliveries up to 85mph, but 37 against balls over 85mph.

His dismissal at Sydney was Root’s struggles down under in excelsis. Root had just played out a maiden from his first six balls; England had not scored for 42 deliveries. Boland bowled just short of a good length, getting the ball to seam away well outside off stump. The delivery posed no threat to the stumps, but one of Root’s hallmarks – one of the reasons that he is so good – is his proactivity at the crease.

On slower wickets in England, the guide through gully that Root attempted would have been a far safer shot. But in Sydney the extra bounce and pace meant that Root’s steer only ended up in the hands of Steve Smith at second slip.

In Australia, Root’s penchant for playing at wide deliveries – even before he is set – imbues his innings with danger. England’s top three have heightened this vulnerability by exposing Root to the ball when it is new, and moves most off the seam.


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