Cricket: Joe Root hoping history repeats itself

Joe Root is hoping England can repeat recent history - by clinching the one-day international series at the Wanderers, just as they did in the third Test here last month.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 11 February, 2016, 15:09
Joe Root

Joe Root is hoping England can repeat recent history - by clinching the one-day international series at the Wanderers, just as they did in the third Test here last month.

Root returns to the scene of his ninth Test century, in a series-securing seven-wicket win, on the back of another hundred - this time his ODI career-best 125 at Centurion two days ago.

That innings came in defeat, though, South Africa easily chasing 318 for eight - on the back of an opening stand of 239 between Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla - to narrow the deficit to 2-1 with two to play.

It was 1-0 to England, with two to play, when they reached Johannesburg in the Test series.

Root did not disappoint then, and neither did world number one Test bowler Stuart Broad - who took six for 17 in the second innings, and appears set to return on Friday for his first ODI match in almost a year.

Asked if the surroundings of the Wanderers will motivate England to pull off a repeat success, Root said: "Absolutely.

"We've got a lot of positive things to look at throughout this series anyway.

"We've already won here on the tour, and it'd be great to do that again.

"But we're going to have to play some really good cricket on what should be a very high-scoring ground."

This highveld venue, where the ball famously flies so far and often off the bat because of the 4,000 feet of altitude, is universally associated with huge limited-overs scores.

Three of the four all-time highest ODI totals, between Test nations, were all hit here.

Two came in the same match, when South Africa beat Australia in 2006, and then last winter's run-fest of 439 for two against West Indies featured the hosts' record opening stand of 247 between Amla and Rilee Rossouw before captain AB de Villiers took over with the quickest hundred in history from 31 balls.

England are expected to place faith in Broad again, to try to stop a recurrence of anything like that.

Their Test linchpin was omitted from the ICC World Twenty20 squad announced on Wednesday - but after being retained for this series following injuries to first Steven Finn and then Liam Plunkett, he is expected to be back in white-ball action for the first time since England's hapless World Cup campaign 11 months ago.

The tourists' pace attack appeared in need of reinforcement when De Kock and Amla were smashing them to all parts of SuperSport Park this week, and Broad is the obvious available remedy - possibly in place of Chris Jordan.

Root believes, if selected, Broad will be a significant asset.

"I'm sure he'll be desperate to come out and play, especially after the way he performed here last time.

"Stuart's played more than 100 one-dayers for England and has huge amounts of experience.

"If he comes in, that's just one of a few things he'll bring - that experience and knowledge of one-day cricket."

Root will feel at home himself after his previous success here.

He knows he will face a different challenge this time, however, as one batsman among two strong line-ups all determined not to fluff their lines with such run riches almost certainly on offer.

"I'm not sure this one-day pitch will be quite like (the Test one)," he said.

"But with the thin air, the ball flies further on the highveld - and with good wickets and fast outfields, you're going to get big scores.

"So if you get in, you've got to make sure you make the most of it.

"We've got some very hungry guys in our squad who are keen to make some big scores and put South Africa under pressure if we bat first."

England's confidence, he insists, will not be dented by the defeat on Tuesday - which they must hope was a mere blip in their white-ball revolution over the past eight months.

Root said: "We've played some fantastic cricket for six months now in this format of the game, and if not longer - so in that respect, we've got a lot of momentum long term.

"It's about making sure we keep learning from the experiences, learning from the loss the other night and making sure something like that doesn't happen again.

"If we get in a similar position, like they did, we go on and do exactly what they did."