Joe Root is so awesome that even Usman Khawaja’s mum has a new favourite player.
In many ways this was a routine victory for England, exactly the sort of well-planned chase that has seen them hovering around the number one position over the last year or so. New Zealand’s slightly below par score of 269 was almost entirely down to two contrasting innings – Ross Taylor’s patient hundred and Brendon McCullum’s blitzkrieg 74 – with the rest of the batting succumbing like a slightly drunk woman on the receiving end of 51allout’s best chat up lines. England’s reply was the exact opposite, with all four batsmen making substantial contributions to what became a casual stroll to the finish line. Jonathan Trott’s innings was a perfect reminder to all those who relentlessly criticise his place in the ODI side: you are stupid.
Early days it may be, but Joe Root is the best thing that’s happened since Dannii Minogue’s TV presenting career ground to a halt and she resorted to getting her baps out for low quality calendars. This was a superb innings, built on the combination of the extravagance of youth (in the form of the scoop shot) and the sort of common sense that usually comes from being really really old. To see it from a nine year old boy is truly remarkable.
There’s currently a lot of talk about where Root fits into England’s Test side (and who therefore doesn’t fit). His long term position may be at the top of the order but, for the moment, we’re more than happy to see him in the middle order where he seems to have a great grasp on how to build and pace an innings in different circumstances. Plus it allows Nick Compton to stay at the top of the order, thus keeping England’s superhunk quotient dangerously high.
With the series tied at 1-1, everything is set for an epic finale on Saturday for which we will once again utterly fail to get out of bed. New Zealand have plenty of problems to address – none less significant than their catching, which has been bloody awful to date – while England look a settled side, albeit one still lacking a little something in terms of seam bowling. Both Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad were rather expensive here but were largely bailed out by the excellence of Jimmy Anderson and Steven Finn.
Without our new favourite Mitchell (McClenaghan), New Zealand’s attack regressed back to looking rather popgun, easy pickings for Captain Cook et al. They’ll need to find something extra for the final game or it will be a similar story to the T20 series – promising performances with nothing much to show for it.