Joe Root's Absence Shows Importance to England in West Indies Loss

Chris Teale@@chris_tealeFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2014

England's Joe Root, left, celebrates after he scored a century next to team's captain Stuart Broad during a tour match against University of West Indies' Vice Chancellor XI at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in St. John's, Antigua, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

England floundered in their opening Twenty20 International against West Indies on Sunday, losing by 27 runs in Barbados after failing to chase a target of 171 to win.

Based on that performance on a spin-friendly wicket, the absence of Joe Root has clearly already had an impact on the side and will continue to be keenly felt, especially if he is unavailable for the ICC World Twenty20 later this month, which appears likely

In the third One Day International, his final game before succumbing to a broken thumb, Root batted brilliantly to make his first ODI century, an innings of 107 from 122 balls to help England build an imposing total.

He then opened the bowling with his canny off-spinners, and while he may have only lasted for three overs and conceded 24 runs, he took the first wicket of Kieran Powell and helped put the West Indians on the back foot immediately.

In his absence, based on their performance today, England will struggle for the rest of this T20 series and then in the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, where spin will again be key.

The pitch in Barbados was conducive to spin bowling, so it was likely that Root would have opened the bowling once again to try and restrict the hosts’ destructive hitters.

Without him, however, England had just one player to bowl spin, with James Tredwell relied upon heavily for turn and impact alongside five seam bowlers.

It was questionable for the tourists to select so many fast bowlers on a pitch so helpful for their slower counterparts, especially with Stephen Parry and Moeen Ali available and coming off an ODI series where they had a great deal of impact.

The help for the spinners was noticeable in England’s innings, where Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine and Marlon Samuels took six wickets between them in 10 overs.

With the bat, England looked clueless as they chased 171 to win, an infinitely reachable target in a period where chasing 200 in 20 overs is not out of the question.

Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

The top of the order was ponderous, with Michael Lumb and Alex Hales combining for just 21 runs in 26 balls and Luke Wright at No. 3 being dismissed for a golden duck.

Of the remaining players, only Eoin Morgan, Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan reached double figures, as the visitors were swept aside and restricted to 143-9 from their full allocation of overs.

How they would have loved to have Root come in at No. 4 or No. 5, bringing with him his fast running between the wickets and a superb strike rate of 139.44 from just seven games.

With his ability to manoeuvre the ball and find the gaps in the field, Root may well have been enormously helpful for England as they chased their target.

However, his absence was telling, and it seems likely he will not be available for the showpiece World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, a country dominated by spin and slow wickets.

Based on this showing, that could be a very short tournament indeed for England, who won the competition in 2010 when it was held in the West Indies.