Thursday, July 9, 2015

Don Bradman should have been prosecuted for plundering runs that no normal human had any right to score.

A twenty year career and six thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six runs later, the greatest cricketer of all time had an average of 99.94. Freak.

Whenever he passed fifty, he invariably went on to score a century, as witnessed by his conversion rate of sixty-nine percent. Twenty-nine centuries and thirteen half-centuries. A rare one indeed, to possess such powers of concentration.

Perhaps it was his ability to pick the line and length earlier than anyone else that set him apart, hence putting less mental stress upon him and allowing him to concentrate better than others for longer.

Whatever it was, it was a record without peer and we may not see it replicated for hundreds of years.

Or maybe not.

You simply never know when that next one is coming around the corner. Could the time be upon us?

Joe Root has acquired fourteen hundred and fifty-two runs over the past thirteen months at an average of 85.14. The twenty-four year old is currently attempting a pretty decent impersonation of Bradman.

But it's been one year. ONE YEAR. Let's repeat that: ONE YEAR. Sure the man from Yorkshire has been in the form of his life. There is work to do though.

His conversion rate currently sits at thirty-eight percent, rising to forty-one over the previous year. Yet, as one television commentator commented today, Root has on seven occasions got out for scores between seventy and ninety-nine during his Test career.

Convert those and that conversion rate is significantly enhanced. On most of these occasions this can only be a concentration issue, for when he does reach three figures he tends to go big.

Such as today.

One hundred and thirty-four star-sent runs. And as is often the norm with Root, he saunters to the middle with England reeling at a minimum of runs gained and closing in on a maximum of wickets lost.

In this case, forty-three for three was the damage. Adam Lyth was caught early in the slips while attempting to pan a ball to the legside. Never mind playing straight at the beginning of an inning to one of the best pace attacks in the World. Or anyone for that matter.

Then Alastair Cook tried to cut a Nathan Lyon delivery close enough to cut Cook in half, getting himself caught behind. Two down and then things became somewhat more dire when Ian Bell continued his run of poor form and went one delivery closer to retirement.

But Root always appears up for a crisis. On numerous occasions he saved the day against New Zealand in their recent series. Fortunately old habits die hard, for he was up to his old tricks again. Not that it was easy batting conditions.

This was a pitch that was far from having the verve and carbonation of Adam and Eve on their first meeting. It appeared to have been prepared with only one thing in mind; To negate Australia's pace attack. Fair enough, I guess.

This is debate for another day whether winning at all costs is the go or should the advertisement of the game come first, or does winning alone create enough of an advertisement by itself.

Back to the game in hand, conditions for England should have been worse as Root was dropped by Brad Haddin while still scoreless. If only Haddin had spent the last few months practicing his catching skills rather more than his sledging skills, Australia may have had the English all out for three hundred instead of the three hundred and forty-three for seven they ended on by the close of this first day.

Root, fortunately, is no worrier. He'll simply shrug off the past and launch into a billowing counterattack, often scoring at a strike rate of over one hundred. Sixteen of his initial seventeen runs came by way of fours, his strike rate at one stage even ascending to one hundred and sixty-six.

With the able assistance of Gary Ballance, who some say has limited footwork while others may call it economy of movement, the pair of them combined for a partnership of one hundred and fifty-three. Though Ballance departed at one hundred and ninety-six for four, having accumulated a hard fought sixty-two, there was no panic.

There never is with Root. He simply moves on in life and finds a new partner to share the joys of dampening Australian spirits with. In this case, Ben Stokes.

This dasher is a blaster and while this blaster may not yet be the ultimate master, he casts his sail to the winds of attack. He assaulted fifty-two, and by the time he was bowled by Mitchell Starc, had six fours and two sixes mixed in.

Unlike some, he doesn't gain much flack for his attack, for he more often than not succeeds. So when on the rare occasions he does fail, he is cut some slack.

So he should be. He is a match winner. Much like Root. By the time both had departed, England had reached two hundred and ninety-three for six and had gone some way to quietening the sceptics who believed this series will be a romp for the visitors. England are in good hands. There is hope on that there horizon.

And in Root, there could yet be the chance of that next one coming around the corner.

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