ANI Photo | “Do you want normal or an even better Joe Root?”: McCullum defends star batter’s shot selection

Following England’s massive 434-run loss to India in the Rajkot, head coach Brendon McCullum backed under-scrutiny batter Joe Root and his reverse scoop shot, saying that the batter has been averaging high under the leadership of skipper Ben Stokes and the coach McCullum and his impact on the game is still very significant.
England succumbed to a massive 434-run loss to India in Rajkot and a key highlight of this was yet another disappointing performance by Root, who lost his wicket to poor shot selection, including the reverse scoop itself. While many experts and former cricketers have slammed Root’s Test shot selection, McCullum has come to Root’s defence, who has scored just 77 runs in six innings in the series so far at a poor average of just over 12 and best score of 29.
McCullum took aim at the critics who opine that England’s highly attacking, positive and result-oriented ‘Bazball’ approach does not suit Root. During the course of this series, Root’s career average has dropped below 50. Under Stokes-McCullum however, his average continues to be above 50 (50.12), significantly during his own tenure as captain, when he averaged 46.14.
“I think he has averaged about 50 with that shot (reverse scoop) [previously 60, now 30], plus what has happened after he has played that shot previously. He has got out twice doing it. You can get nicked off defending one or trying to drive one through the leg side. I do not know if it is as a high-risk shot in the modern game as what it appears in the previous game,” said McCullum as quoted by ESPNCricinfo.
“I would say that his statistics in the last 18 months or so, whilst people see a shot like that and they go ‘oh, Joe Root is struggling to deal with this new regime’ – but have a look at the numbers. He is averaging higher. He is striking at a higher rate. His impact on the game is still very, very significant,” he added.
McCullum questioned critics if they want a “normal Joe Root” or an “even better” version of the batter.
“Imagine if this becomes the norm for Joe as well (playing aggressively and averaging high), with the talent that he possesses and the history that he has got. And then what is the ceiling? So this is a point: do we want just a normal Joe Root, or do we want a Joe Root that is even better. How many games are we going to win if that happens?,” he said.
Two more wins would help England bounce back from a 2-1 trailing in the series. Previously, in the Ashes, England were down 2-0 before they fought back their way to a 2-2 draw, which very well could have been a series win if it was not for rain during the fourth Test.
McCullum is happy with England’s current method and argued that shifting focus to mistakes and what the Three Lions did last summer would be counterproductive. Rather, the team would double down during the must-win match at Ranchi. McCullum asserted that things could work out for England next time and the team’s focus is on positivity.
“That is not a conversation we have ever had (about abandoning their current approach) because then you are starting to put peripheral thoughts into guys’ minds and the whole idea is to free them up to allow them to make good decisions in the moment, to be totally present, and to be able to then adjust their games to be able to do so. To me that almost puts a limitation on what you can achieve,” said McCullum.
“Ultimately, if you are going to beat India in India you have got to be able to be good enough against every single one of their bowlers regardless of if they are a man down or not. I was not against the method that they took, that we went out there with. It obviously did not work on this occasion and we’re going to cop that sweet, but it might work next time.”
“If you have got one crack at life you may as well enjoy yourself and remain positive throughout things, there’s lots of people who see the grey sky not the blue. And to me that is not necessarily how you go about things, and it is certainly not how you want to play as a cricket team when you have got this much talent that sits amongst it.”
“Yes, we will get it wrong at times. Guys in their own way will process that and be able to smooth out some of those rough edges. But a general conversation among the group about, ‘we did not do this right, we need to do this next time’ – it is detrimental to what you are trying to achieve and you need conviction in your methods,” he concluded. (ANI)

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