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Roots form with bat is now Englands biggest worry after worst performance as captain in New Zealand drubbing

JOE ROOT must find a way of making sure his job as captain does not damage his batting.

As Root surveyed the wreckage of Englands crushing defeat in the First Test here, his own form has become his teams biggest worry.

Joe Root insists skippering England is not the reason for his slump in batting form

Sure, taking wickets overseas, how best to handle Jofra Archer and getting to grips with Englands new patient batting policy are all in his in-tray.

But nothing is more urgent than Root recapturing the torrent of runs that once made him one of the best batsmen in the world.

He scored two and 11 his worst return in a match as captain as England lost to New Zealand by an innings and 65 runs at the Bay Oval.

His career average while in charge has dropped below 40 for the first time. Although he scored four fifties in last summers Ashes, he also registered three ducks.

Do not forget, the England hierarchy have all-but appointed Root as skipper through to The Ashes tour of 2021-22. So he will not resign or be sacked.

No, he is here to stay but somehow must find the hundred habit.

Root admitted: Ive had a bit of a rough time in terms of scores and found two dreadful ways of getting out.

Im working extremely hard. It doesnt always come easily but you have to go through a bit of a dip sometimes.

The fact that Im captain at the same time…well, thats an easy excuse.

It wouldnt even be a question if I was in a different phase of my career.

But I trust my game as I have a lot in the bank and dont feel far away.

Asked if he was sure the captaincy was not hindering his batting, he replied: Yes.


Root had sessions with an old friend the Sheffield Collegiate clubs captain and coach Josh Varley and former Yorkshire player Simon Guy before arriving in New Zealand.

He was confident he had ironed out some technical glitches that crept into his batting against the Aussies.

Perhaps he should have been more selfish and continued batting in Englands warm-up match here, rather than retiring having scored 41.

Head coach Chris Silverwood and assistants Graham Thorpe and Paul Collingwood must now do everything they can to reduce Roots burden.

That especially means clearing him of involvement in running net sessions to allow him ample time to work on getting his batting back on track.

It was a bad first Test for Silverwood but two of Englands successful coaches Duncan Fletcher and Andy Flower began by being hammered in their opening match.

Root will persevere with the steady-as-she-goes batting strategy which encourages crease occupation and accumulation rather than dashing stroke play.

Joe Denly has got the message better than anybody so far.

Kiwi wicketkeeper BJ Watling provided the perfect lesson in how it should be done by scoring 205 from 473 balls.

Root believes the match was lost in the first innings when England subsided from 277-4 to 353 all out.

And he wants Archer to bowl flat-out more often even though he sent down 42 overs as New Zealand racked up a mammoth 615-9.

Joe Root is confident pace ace Jofra Archer will not repeat his segway antics
Joe Root is confident pace ace Jofra Archer will not repeat his Segway antics

That is more bowling than Stuart Broad has ever done in an innings.

But Root explained: Jofra has burst on the scene and done wonderful things and he will do many more.

But this is very new to him. Hes bowled with a Kookaburra red ball for the first time in his career.

He has all the attributes and must learn to make every spell count. You have to run in and use that extra pace to your advantage.

There are certain spells where he could unleash a little more. That will come with experience and hes a fast learner. I really dont think he realises how good he is.

Root was not too happy seeing Archer buzz around on a Segway before the match.

He added: I wasnt surprised but Im glad he got off it. I dont think hell be on it in the next Test.

One after the other on the final day, England batsmen tossed away their wickets to shots that were careless, reckless or simply plain stupid.

This type of match has become almost the norm for England overseas.

They fail to score enough runs in their first innings, surrender massive totals to the opposition and then crumble in their second innings.

Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, Root, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler played poor shots (in the case of Buttler, no shot) which meant England failed in their attempt at a rearguard.

And they disintegrated to 197 all out, even though Kiwi king of swing Trent Boult bowled only six overs because of a side strain.

Pace merchant Neil Wagner did the damage with a stunning 5-44, and Englands batting woes were summed up by their collapse from 121-4 to 128-8 in the blink of an eye.

Root has much to ponder before the Second Test begins on Thursday evening and particularly how he will score some runs.