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Root’s Australian Test conundrum continues

First, the glass half-full approach with Joe Root.

He’s the world’s top-ranked Test batsman.

He’s only the second Test captain to score more than 1600 runs in a calendar year – 1606 in 2021, behind the 1656 of South Africa’s Graeme Smith in 2008.

And where would England be without him?

Now, the glass half-empty.

He’s never scored a Test century in Australia.

No Englishman has scored more Test half-centuries in Australia without making a ton.

And his conversion rate pales compared to the big three of Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson.

The Root conundrum continued in Adelaide on Saturday when he made 62 in the second Test.

That followed his 89 in the second innings of England’s nine-wicket loss in the Ashes opener in Brisbane.

Root now has eight Test half-centuries in Australia, including five in his past six knocks here.

But only two English batsmen have made as many Test fifties in Australia without once reaching triple-figures: Nasser Hussain and Tom Hayward.

Hussain’s eight half-centuries in Australia came from 20 innings between 1998-2003.

And Hayward logged eight from 27 innings in Australia between 1897-1904.

Root has batted 20 times in Australia for his eight scores of 50 or higher.

But as his teammate Dawid Malan, who has made 80 and 82 in his past two Test knocks, noted after Saturday’s play: “It’s big runs … big hundreds that win you Test matches.”

“Last Test match we were in a position, both myself and Rooty, to score hundreds and we didn’t do it,” Malan said.

“And we were in the same position here.

“That is something we need to do better … if someone gets in, to make sure we get that big hundred.”

Root is currently the world’s top-ranked Test batsman on a convoluted formula which takes into account runs scored, if they were in a win, and ratings of the opposition.

But Root’s conversion rate of half-centuries into hundreds pales in comparison to others in the ‘world’s best batsman’ discussion – Smith, Kohli and Williamson.

In his Test career, Root has scored 23 tons and 52 half-centuries.

India’s megastar Kohli has 27 of each; Australia’s Smith has 27 hundreds and 32 half-centuries; New Zealand’s Williamson has 24 and 33.

But Malan said his 30-year-old captain still has time to even out those conversion figures.

“His numbers suggest he is one of the best batters that has ever played the game,” Malan said..

“He has still got a lot of batting to do in his young career.”

ROOT’S RECORD:

OVERALL: 203 innings, 23 centuries, 52 half-centuries, 50.15 average. Highest score: 254

IN AUSTRALIA: 20 innings, 0 centuries, 8 half-centuries, 44.01 average. Highest score: 89.

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