District Daily News

Prior to the fourth Test, McCullum supports Bairstow and Root, who are under criticism

<p>In the lead-up to the last game of the five-match series, which begins on Friday in Ranchi, England head coach Brendon McCullum has solidly supported the struggling combination of Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root, despite their dismal run of results in the first three Tests.</p>
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<p>There are concerns over Bairstow and Root’s spot in the squad for the fourth Test given that Bairstow has only scored 102 runs in six innings and Root’s bat has only scored 77 runs in the first three Tests.</p>
<p>But McCullum put his support behind the batsmen, stating, “Jonny should be playing; I haven’t even seen the wicket in Ranchi.” Barkstow hasn’t scored as many runs as he would have liked, and on a few occasions, he was dismissed really softly for someone with Jonny’s type of power game. I’m not worried about him.</p>
<p>We are aware that a Jonny Bairstow of the highest caliber is unbeatable under any circumstances. From our perspective, Jonny will succeed if we continue to give him confidence and help him tune out most other distractions. We also need to keep him really present and focused on his goals.</p>
<p>“Anywhere may be difficult to travel, but we’re far from home and India can be very challenging. I’m going to spend some time with Jonny and tell him how great of a player he is. And you want to make sure he’s having fun because he’s a decent guy, not because you’re trying to pull a performance out of him. Results-wise, whatever transpires, the former captain of New Zealand continued.</p>
<p>McCullum also defended the slumping former England captain Root, a conventional batsman who has, according to cricket commentators, been having difficulty since the Bazball era. Moreover, McCullum supported Root’s ramp shot, which has received a lot of criticism.</p>
<p>Joe Root, holy cow. Really, what am I saying? According to the rule of averages, he should fill his shoes in the following two,” McCullum said.</p>
<p>On the third day of the Rajkot Test, Root’s ramp shot caused an 8 for 95 collapse, which ultimately resulted in England’s second consecutive defeat in the series.</p>
<p>“Considering what’s occurred after he’s played that shot before, I believe he’s averaging approximately 50 with that shot (60, now 30). He’s gotten away with it twice. If you attempt to drive one through the leg side or defend one, you risk being nicked off. I’m not sure whether the present game has a higher risk shot than the one from the prior game.</p>
<p>“I would suggest that looking at his statistics over the previous 18 months or so, you should be skeptical of the statement made by some that “oh, Joe Root is trying to adjust with this new regime” after seeing a shot like that. His average is greater. He is hitting more often. His influence remains very noteworthy throughout the game.</p>
<p>“With Joe’s skill and background, just think what may happen if this were to happen to him too. What is the ceiling after that? This brings us to the question: are we content with a Joe Root that is only average or do we desire something much better? In that case, how many games will we win?”</p>
<p>Ranchi is expected to see Stokes bowl.<br />
Over the last two years, England captain Ben Stokes—one of the best all-rounders in the world—has been reduced to a mere batter due to a number of injury issues. Stokes hasn’t bowled in international cricket since undergoing knee surgery to treat a chronic condition during the 2023 ODI World Cup.</p>
<p>The 32-year-old really played the World Cup and the following games as a specialist batsman, not bowling since the Ashes in mid-2023. But after the third Test in Rajkot, when England suffered their second-biggest crushing, Stokes hinted at a potential comeback to bowling.</p>
<p>“I bowled at 100% for the first time in the nets. I tend to jump the gun a little too much as a person. I need to acclimate my whole body to bowling. Thus, at the conclusion of the third Test, he stated, “I am not saying no, but I am not saying yes, either.”</p>
<p>Only two guys have ever achieved the Test double of 6000 runs and 200 wickets: Garry Sobers and Jacques Kallis. Stokes is three scalps away from entering this exclusive group. The outstanding all-rounder has 39 wickets in 39 Tests against India, 13 of which have come in consecutive innings played in Indian conditions.</p>
<p>While Stokes has resumed bowling in the nets, the team’s ability to benefit from his bowling in the next two games in Ranchi and Dharamsala may depend on the circumstances. However, his return to the bowling assault in Ranchi might provide depth and diversity to their attack.</p>