December 10, 2021
While Root has had a brilliant 2021 at the crease, his teammates have let him down but Malan has come good at the right time
England’s Dawid Malan provides the run support that Joe Root has missed all year | Andy Bull
And on the third day, some hope. The game changed as that 159-run partnership between Joe Root and Dawid Malan stretched on through the afternoon, the miseries for England of the first two innings receded, replaced by the promise of a better contest ahead. Root’s 86 was a vital sign that his duck in the first innings was an aberration, while Malan’s 80 was, in a way, even more important. England won’t win anything if Root doesn’t score runs, but the truth is, they don’t necessarily win much when he does, either. He peeled off a flawless 180 not out against India at Lord’s in August and they were still beaten by 151.
Just after tea at the Gabba, Root hit his 1,482nd run of 2021. It is a record for the most runs scored by an Englishman in a single year of Test Cricket. On screen they showed the top five in the list. There was Michael Vaughan, of course, in 2002, Jonny Bairstow in 2016, and Root himself, in 2015 and 2016. It’s interesting, flicking through them, to see how well their teammates played around them at the time. In 2002, every member of England’s top six scored at least 500 runs; in 2015, so did Alastair Cook, Ben Stokes, Ian Bell and Moeen Ali; in 2016, Cook, Ali, and Stokes did it again, and so did Alex Hales.
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