Comparing Joe Root with Alastair Cook at Same Stage of Their Careers

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Comparing Joe Root with Alastair Cook at Same Stage of Their Careers
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

A common debate has been raging among cricket fans of late. Who will go on to score more runs for EnglandAlastair Cook or Joe Root?

The similarities between the pair are considerable. They both made their Test debuts at the age of 22 and instantly looked like they belonged at international level.

They are both openers and possess similar styles of batting.

They even seem alike in terms of personality, coming over as unflappable competitors on the field and nice guys off of it.

Cook began in 2006 and, 25 centuries later, he has racked up 7,801 runs at an average of 47.85, becoming England Captain in 2012.

For Root, last December was the starting point but in that short time, he has fully established himself in the side and seems set to continue there for the foreseeable future.

With the dust from the 2013 Ashes series still settling, here is an analysis of the duo when they were at the same stage in their early Test careers.

 

Debut

Cook's debut century

Nagpur was the venue as Cook scored 60 in his first-ever Test innings and a sensational 104 not out in the second to help England begin a intimidating tour of India with a draw.

Coincidentally, Root’s Test career also fired into life at Nagpur, as the Yorkshire player stoked a composed 73 and a 20 not out in his first pair of innings. England drew the game and went on to win the series 2-1.

 

Match-winning Knocks

Over the years, Cook has been the backbone of England’s batting, none more so than the 766 runs he scored in the 2010/11 Ashes. However, earlier in his career, a century at Old Trafford, already his third in Test cricket paved the way for a victory over Pakistan and was his first out. 

Root's Ashes ton

Root’s usurping of Nick Compton as opener for the Ashes was at the time a controversial move. However, his mammoth 180 in the second innings at Lord’s proved the selectors’ decision was correct and paved the way for a heavy England win.

 

Strengths

Both are prodigious accumulators who prefer the back foot to the front and generally practice concentration and crease occupation over swashbuckling stroke play.

Cook dines out on anything short with cuts and pulls, while keeping the scoreboard ticking by working anything on his legs into the onside.

Root has a wider range of shots, including a glorious back-foot drive reminiscent of Mike Atherton.

 

Weaknesses Exposed

A tendency to stay back makes Cook, as per most openers, vulnerable to the pitched up-swinging ball early on, while Australia targeted an area outside off stump.

As per Geoffrey Boycott in the Telegraph, Root has had some trouble with his footwork during the 2013 Ashes, particularly against the new ball.

 

Comparative Stats After Eleven Games

Name Matches Innings Not Outs Runs Highest Score 50s 100s Average
Alastair Cook 11 20 2 851 127 3 3 47.27
Joe Root 11 21 2 763 180 3 2 40.15

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Verdict

Alastair Cook has already broken the England century record and, at the ripe old age of 28, should go on to become his country's all-time leading run scorer.

However, providing Joe Root stays fit and can ride the troughs of form that will come his way, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him chasing down Cook's records in a decades time.

 

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