Joe Root : A statistical insight into his test career

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Joesph Edward root Shortly called as Joe Root is one of England’s Premier batsmen, especially in Test cricket. Hailing from a family with a good cricketing background, he has been impressive right from the start of his career. He is also a part of the “fab four” group of cricketers. The elite group comprises of Joe Root, Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, Williamson.

Joe Root made his debut for Yorkshire’s second team in 2007. After that, there was no looking back. In 2010 he was selected for the U-19 world cup. In the very next year, he made his county championship debut. A good stint in that year’s county championship earned him a place in England’s test side.

He made his debut in 2012 against India at Nagpur. He scored a fighting fifty against likes of Ravi Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Piyush Chawla, and Pragyan Ojha. Over the years he went on to become one of the most reliable batsmen of the English side. This article provides a complete insight into his test career.

Overall statistics :

After an impressive debut in India, he was selected for a test tour to NewZealand. But that series did not pan out as expected. But he struck back brilliantly when the same opposition toured England. He scored his first test century against them and the rest is history.

His performance away from home is also very impressive. He has amassed over 3000 runs at a healthy average of 45.12. 2014-2016 was the best period of Root’s career. He stacked over 3500 runs at an average of close to 50 during that period.

There were little ups and downs in the initial part of his career. But after his 22nd match, he managed to keep his average over 50. But an unexpected dip in form over the last few years saw his average drop below the fifty.

Over the years, there has been a lot of talks about Joe Root’s conversion rate, captaincy and his batting position. What do numbers say about this? let’s find it out.

Also read: The curious case of Aiden Markram, Varun Desai

Conversion Rate :

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Conversion Rate is the important criteria to determine the batsmen’s ability to score big once he gets a start. Lets set a limit for batsmen to cross. A score of 25 can be considered as a start and a score of 50 can be termed as good innings. A score of 100+ is the ultimate reach for every batsman. For this comparison, Batsmen (active) with at least 5000 Test runs are selected. Let’s see how many times the players cross the benchmark.

In this regard, Steve Smith stands out form the rest. Out of his 131 innings, he has crossed the initial 25 run limit nearly 81 times. So that he has a very good percentage of 61.83. Joe Root’s ability to cross the Hundred run mark is the worrying sign. Only 10 per cent of his innings goes beyond the hundred run mark.

Now let’s look at the conversion rates.

In terms of converting a start into good innings, Williamson leads the chart. Joe root is just behind him with a 69.15 per cent conversion rate. But they fall behind in the 50 to 100 conversion rate chart. Virat Kohli has the best 50 to 100 conversion rate among the rest. Joe Root has the second-lowest 50 to 100 conversion rate.

Consistency :

In addition to conversion rate consistency is also more important for batsmen. Standard deviation can help this cause. It measures the average deviation of each score from the overall mean. Lower the standard deviation, higher is the consistency. But the problem with SD is that it gives low values even for batsmen with a string of low scores. For example, A batsman with scores of 6,8,5,12,5,6,18 may be consistent mathematically. But in cricket, he is nowhere consistent.

To neutralise this issue lets introduce the Consistency Index (CI). Consistency Index can be obtained by dividing the standard deviation by runs per test (mean). CI is expressed in terms of percentage. Lower the CI, higher will be the consistency. Now let’s look at the numbers.

To the surprise, Angelo Mathews emerges as the consistent batsmen in the list. But his RPT falls below 70. After Mathews, Joe Root is the consistent batsman. He has a healthy RPT over 80 and CI of 71.24%. But the problem with CI is that it only tells whether the batsmen are able to replicate their RPT in every test they play.

RPT can vary significantly across batsmen. For instance, Steve Smith has an RPT of 99 while Mathews has an RPT close to 70. So let’s look at average Gap between every score in excess of fifty for these batsmen. To get this average gap, simply divide the total innings by the number of innings with scores in excess of fifty.

This chart entirely paints a different image. On average, Mathews goes beyond the fifty run mark in every 3.4th innings. Steve Smith has the least gap of 2.4. Both Kane Williamson and Joe Root have an average gap of 2.6.

Batting Position : 

Batting at the right position plays an important role in determining the player’s performance. For instance, Steve Smith batted at NO.3 position as well as at NO.4. But at the first opportunity, he opts for NO.4 position. During the 2019 Ashes series, joe root promoted himself up the order to number 3. But he averaged only 32.5 from the five tests.

The data clearly shows that the number 3 position is not meant for joe root when compared with other positions. Till 2015 joe root was batting at number 5. He has a whopping average of 69.11 at number 5. After Ian Bell stepped away Joe Root became a dominant force at number 4. He amassed over 3000 runs at an average of 50 at that position.

Joe Root has the best conversion rate at number 5. But in the current batting line-up, Joe Root can’t be batting at number 5. So number 4 could be the best position for Joe Root.

Effect of Captaincy :

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Joe Root was named captain of the test side in February 2017 following the resignation from Alastair Cook. He kick-started his captaincy career with a magnificent 190 against South Africa. After that series, there was a slight dip in Joe Root’s performance. Is captaincy taking a toll on him? Let’s take a look at the variations in his average.

From the above chart, it is clear that normal Joe Root performs better than Captain Root. Captaincy adds extra pressure to the player’s performance. Only a few can handle it better. To be honest, the Current English side needs the batsman Joe Root, not captain Joe Root. His conversion rate is also taking a dip due to captaincy. Without captaincy, he has a 50 to 100 conversion rate close to 30%. But with captaincy, it drops to 22.22%.

Will this enforced break from cricket due to the ongoing pandemic reverse Joe Root’s fortune as test captain?. England’s next Test assignment is against west indies. It will be the first international cricket match since 13th march 2020.

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