England batted the entire day on day three to take a 27-run lead against India at Lord’s Cricket Ground in the ongoing second Test. Skipper Joe Root was the architect of England’s innings and scored an unbeaten 180 as England was bowled out for 391.
Former England captain Michael Atherton believes that Root has reaped awards for all the hard work he put in the COVID-19 lockdown last year.
"I think this is a reward for some incredible work he did in lockdown. It came at a time when he was 29 and had already had a fantastic career. But it just gave him an opportunity to rest, where he's said 'I've got the second half of my career to come and I can go from being a very, very fine player to one of the all-time greats," Michael Atherton told Sky Sports.
Joe Root reached his 22nd Test ton and became only the second England batter to reach the 9000-run mark in Test cricket. Root started 2021 with two double-centuries and now has five centuries this year.
Atherton said that the tweaks Root made in his technique has resulted in this ‘golden run of form.’
"He asked the analyst to send him every dismissal from the last five years or so, looked at it in great detail, and tried to work out where he could go from there. He's reaping the rewards of that."
"He's made a slight technical adjustment now, with that back leg going straight back. That made him less vulnerable to the lbw when the ball is straight. For three years, he's not been quite at his best at home against seam and pace bowling, but now he's in a golden run of form that started at the beginning of 2021 when England went to Sri Lanka,” he said.
"He showed all his great skill on the dust bowls in Asia and now he's got his very best game together in more seam-friendly conditions here at home,” he added.
The England captain walked in when his team was in trouble at 23/2 and lead the English fightback to give his team a crucial lead in the first innings.
"The lovely thing is how he doesn't seem burdened at all by the weight of captaincy and expectation at the moment. Think of the context of this innings — he came in on a hat-trick ball when India had just got two in two
He's the captain who put India in to bat and they've put on 127 for the first wicket and made 364 — not a huge score but certainly more than you'd want when you put a side in. Those kinds of things impact on you,” said the former captain.
Atherton concluded by saying Root has managed both captaincy and batting well and has not put himself under pressure.
"He's Joe Root the batsman, not Joe Root the captain burdened by expectation and pressure and he's playing with great freedom,” he concluded.