'Focus on power game can make Root effective in Tests'

Julian Wood, who has worked on Joe Root's batting, believes that the England captain can be more effective as a batsman if he can go to his power game earlier.

Joe Root has not been able to convert the fifties into hundreds in Test cricket.   -  Getty Images

England captain Joe Root, for long, has been hailed as a 'modern great' alongside his peers Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson. Not only is Root one of world's best Test batsmen (5960 runs at 52.28), he's also one of England's best players ahead of the crucial five-Test series against India starting in Birmingham from August 1.

And yet, when Root gets out after scoring a half-century, talks of him struggling to reach his full potential resurfaces. He has 53 fifty-plus scores against his name. Despite his consistency with the bat, Root's Test career has been marked by a failure to convert the fifties into hundreds.

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Former Hampshire opener and coach, Julian Wood, believes it's all in the mind. "Root is a quality player, there’s no doubt he is England’s best Test batsman. I believe he bats similarly in the long format as he does in ODIs. If you look at (Kane) Williamson and (Virat) Kohli, they leave more balls than Root in the longer format. For him to turn those 50/60s into 100s has to be a mindset thing," Wood, who has helped Root with his hitting since Champions Trophy last year, told Sportstar.

Wood has previously worked with Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes - helping them improve their power hitting. The 49-year-old former first-class batsman was inspired by how batters generated power in baseball and tried to introduce a similar method which would allow cricketers around the world maximise their hitting ability.

Wood believes Root will be able to impose himself on the game as a batsman if "he can go to his power game earlier, this will make him more effective. England is packed with power hitters, so he needs to be smart about how he uses his power game.

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"If you look at the IPL, (Kane) Williamson was the leading run scorer. There is definitely a place for the skill/touch player in amongst all these big hitters."

During the time Root and Wood worked together, the duo focused more on "power game." When it got to the time of the innings where he needed to shift gears, he was trying to hit from a batting position rather than a hitting position.

"They are two separate techniques batting and hitting, the skill is to not confuse the two. Sometimes his hitting technique can let him down," Wood observed.

Last time India toured England for a five-Test series, Root amassed 518 runs in five Tests at a staggering average of 103.60. He had two hundreds and three fifties. As England gears up to play its 1000th Test on Wednesday, it would be hoping for a repeat of the 2014 English summer.

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