Joe Root’s England wrapped up a comprehensive innings-and-53-run win over South Africa in the third Test, taking a 2-1 series lead with one to play, but the captain didn’t have the best of times personally on the final morning in Port Elizabeth.
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Root conceded a Test record-equalling 28 in a single over as tailender Keshav Maharaj smashed three fours and two sixes off his first five balls in the 82nd over before four byes then came from his final delivery.
S Africa vs England
January 24, 2020, 7:30am
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Root (4-87) had been searching for a maiden Test five-for after taking four wickets during an impressive bowling display on day four that helped set-up England’s emphatic win, but Maharaj (71 off 106 balls) and Dane Paterson (39 off 40) put on a 99-run partnership for the final wicket to take some gloss off the performance.
So, should Root have continued to bowl on the fifth morning? That subject, among others, was up for discussion as Mark Ramprakash and Alec Stewart joined Chales Colvile for The Cricket Debate.
Listen to the latest Cricket Debate in the player below or by downloading the podcast here.
“He was genuinely the best bowler yesterday [on day four],” said Ramprakash. “His wickets were legitimate; caught short-leg, lbw.
“He bowled the right pace for the track; it was a shame he didn’t get his five-for in the end and it became a bit untidy but, in the end, England got the job done.
“Sometimes, when you’re bowling, it’s not easy to see the bigger picture. That’s why, often, batsmen captain sides because, if you’re bowling, you tend to be thinking about your bowling.
“What he needed perhaps was one or two characters around – Ben Stokes or Stuart Broad – helping him out, having a chat with him and suggesting, after four or five overs, is this what the team needs?”
Stewart also felt Root, while ‘understandable’ he’d bowl to start the day, should have put the team ahead of any personal push for a first five-for in Tests.
“You could say, should he have given the ball to his number one spinner in Dom Bess?” added Stewart. “But he chose to go with himself, which is fully understandable after how well he bowled yesterday.
“The issue I have is how long he bowled for.
“Was he was trying to get a five-for for his own good? In a way, I’d be disappointed if he was because, as captain, you should lead from the front and try to win the game as soon as you can; top sides are ruthless.
“You do get last-wicket partnerships where people chance their arm, but I felt he could have changed things earlier.”