Joe Root

The 10 biggest moments of Root's Test career

Little more than eight years after stepping onto the international stage for the first time, Joe Root is set to play his 100th Test on Friday, 5 February against India in Chennai.

Ahead of the milestone moment, we look back on the 10 biggest moments of Root’s Test career so far.

Test debut – December, 2012

How fitting is it that Root made his Test debut against India in late 2012 in Nagpur. Coincidentally, he also played his 50th Test in India.

Presented with cap No.265 by Paul Collingwood, Root was called up to shore up the batting order as England looked to protect a well-earned series lead in the final match of the tour.

He was bedded into the Test team at No.6 and found himself striding out to bat with England in trouble at 119/4.

The 21-year-old handled the pressure with aplomb, starting his Test career with a marathon 229-ball innings that garnered him 73 runs.

He would score an unbeaten 20 in the second innings as Alastair Cook’s team held on for the draw and England won their first Test series in India in 28 years. No touring team has won a series in India since.

Maiden Test ton vs New Zealand – May, 2013

Root could become just the ninth batsman to score 20 Test centuries for England this week.

He scored the first of his 19 centuries in 2013 against New Zealand, five months after first getting a taste of Test cricket.

Playing his sixth Test, Root came in with the team in trouble at 67/3 and resuscitated the innings in a 79-run stand with Ian Bell (30) and a 124-run stand with Jonny Bairstow (64).

His half-century on debut had showed the kind of patience that would set him on a path to a long and fruitful career in Test cricket. His maiden hundred took things further, showing glimpses of a generational player. 

When he brought up his century, with a clip past slip off the 156th delivery of his innings, he celebrated the moment with gusto.

“I lost it a bit, but you only get your first one once," he later said of the celebration. "I suppose emotions took over and that was the result of it."

Poignantly, the hundred came in his first Test at Headingley. Born and raised in Yorkshire, it was the ground he had always called home.

Joe Root brings up his maiden Test century.
Joe Root brings up his maiden Test century.

First Ashes ton – July, 2013

No contest matters quite so much to England and Australia players than the Ashes, and Root took just two matches to leave his mark on cricket’s oldest rivalry.

Promoted to the top of the order to partner captain Alastair Cook, Root managed just 41 runs across his first three Ashes innings in 2013.

In his fourth innings for the campaign he could have been out for 8, edging between Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke. Instead he scored a second innings 180 at Lord’s to set Australia the humongous target of 593. They would fall 347 runs short, sliding to a 2-0 deficit with three Tests to go and fully aware England had found something special in the then 22-year-old.

It was a performance that was equal parts patience and guile, waiting out Australia’s bowlers early in the innings before cashing in as their energy and morale waned.

Joe Root celebrates his first Ashes ton.
Joe Root celebrates his first Ashes ton.

First double-century – June, 2014

If he hadn’t made it clear enough that he enjoys batting at Lord’s during his 180 against Australia in 2013, Root doubled down the following year against Sri Lanka.

In a match that saw Sri Lanka hold on for a draw by one wicket, Root proved the backbone of England’s innings on a pitch that favoured the batsmen.

Across 298 balls and 500 minutes, the No.5 scored an unbeaten 200. It was his first double-century in Test cricket.

Going into his 100th Test, he has made four double-centuries – a mark bettered by only two other players from England.

Dominating India – July-August, 2014

The hype surrounding Root only grew after a dominant campaign at home against India in 2014 which saw him tally 518 runs at a staggering average of 103.60 across five Tests. It remains the most runs Root has scored in a series.

The classy right-hander started his series in style with an unbeaten 154 that was largely built in the company of the tail, with notable contributions from Stuart Broad (47) and James Anderson (81). It took the hosts to a total of 496 after they were teetering at 202/7. He put on a world record 198 runs with Anderson for the 10th wicket – 36 runs better than the next best 10th wicket stand of all time.

He finished the series by notching another century and this one came at good pace too as he hit 18 fours and one six to notch an unbeaten 149 off 165, extinguishing the faint hopes India had of levelling the series. 

Joe Root dominated India in 2014.
Joe Root dominated India in 2014.

An Ashes to remember and climbing to the top of the ICC Test batting rankings – July-August, 2015

The 2015 Ashes saw two of cricket’s most brilliant young batsmen pitted against one another.

Australia’s Steve Smith came to the UK off the back of a Border-Gavaskar series in which he had averaged 128.16 and a tour of the West Indies where he had averaged 128.16. Root went in with a career average of 54.11 across his first 27 Tests.

Alongside India’s Virat Kohli and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson, these were the four players being touted as the batters to dominate the next decade. It’s fair to say that all four have gone on to justify the hype. 

Root started this campaign with a bang, inspiring a series-opening win for England with a brilliant 134 off 166. It was another innings that came with England under pressure, with the rising star coming out to bat at 43/3 after Cook won the toss and elected to bat first.

He made another hundred later in the series to pile the misery onto Australia after they were knocked over for 60 at Trent Bridge, and he climbed to the top of the ICC's Test batting rankings as a result.

By the end of the fifth Test, he had made 460 runs at 57.50 and was named player of the series alongside Australia’s Chris Rogers (480 at 60).

Smith for his part contributed 508 runs at 56.44.

Joe Root went to the top of the ICC Test batting rankings during the 2015 Ashes.
Joe Root went to the top of the ICC Test batting rankings during the 2015 Ashes.

Becoming England’s Test captain – February, 2017

Long touted as the heir apparent to Cook as England’s next Test captain, destiny manifested itself for Root in early 2017 when he was officially given the reins.

“It is a huge honour to be given the England Test captaincy," he said at the time.

"I feel privileged, humbled and very excited. We have a very good group of players and I’m looking forward to leading them out in the summer, building on Alastair’s achievements and making the most of our talents in the years ahead.”

His appointment came with the ringing endorsement of former England captain Andrew Strauss, who was the country’s director of cricket at the time.

“Joe is the right man to be our next Test captain and I’m thrilled that he has accepted the role,” Strauss said. 

He laid down a serious marker in his first match as captain, scoring 190 runs in his first innings as skipper as England beat South Africa by 211 runs. They went on to win the series and have since defeated the West Indies, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Ireland under his stewardship.

Still only 30 years old, he has already captained England 46 times. Only four other men have captained England in more Tests and he is already in eyesight of Cook’s record of 59 Tests.

A series win in Asia as captain – November, 2018

Ashes series are often held up as the measuring stick by which all England captains are judged but success in Asia deserves plenty of merit itself.

Having seen his stocks hurt by a 4-0 loss in Australia in 2017-18, Root steered his team to something no England side had managed since 1963 – a whitewash victory away from home in a series of at least three Tests.

And what’s more, he did it in Sri Lanka too in the kind of spinning conditions that have often undone England sides of the past. 

As a batsman, Root’s contribution was 229 runs for the series at 38.16, with the highlight being a quickfire 124 in the second innings at Pallekele that dragged England to 346 and set Sri Lanka a target of 301 – 58 too many for the hosts. 

As captain, Root showed he had it in him to lead a side to victory without the services of the retired Cook or an over-reliance of Anderson and Broad, who took just one wicket between them.

"We've been brave,” Root said at the end of the series. “We've done things differently to how we have in the past, but that's not frightened us.

“We really bought into that and played it to our advantage.”

The bounce back – November, 2019

In late 2019, Root slipped out of the ICC’s top 10 batting rankings for the first time since 2014.

He slid to 11th after scores of 2 and 11 in a loss to New Zealand, which had taken his average for the year down to 24.70. 

It was a slump some believed was down to the pressures of captaincy, but he maintained that was simply “an easy excuse”.

One Test later and Root was back into the top 10, skyrocketing to sixth thanks to a patient 226 in the second Test against New Zealand.

He has not been outside the top 10 since then and currently sits fifth on the rankings. 

Dominating Sri Lanka to go past 8000 Test runs – January, 2021

Little more than two years on from that historic series win in Sri Lanka, Root’s England would triumph in the island nation again in 2021.

This time, Root’s fingerprints would be all over the victory.

Sri Lanka did themselves few favours in their first innings at Galle, crumpling to 135 all out, but it still took a serious performance from Root to ensure England’s victory. Batting at second drop, he showed off incredible acumen against the turning ball to score 228 runs in a first innings total of 421. It was his first ton since his 226 against New Zealand in Hamilton in late 2019.

He did not have to wait too much longer for his next Test century, scoring another big hundred in the following match, dragging England to a total of 344. Both centuries came in innings where only one other batsman passed 50.

He finished the tour with a career-best series average of 106.50 and goes into the Test series against India with an average of 54.13 in Asia.

The series also saw Root become just the fourth batsman from England to score 8000 Test runs and while Cook’s record of 12,472 looks a long way away for now, he is almost certain to go past second-placed Graham Gooch  (8900 at 42.58) in the India series.